Sunday, April 30, 2006

Darfur rebels demand changes to peace deal at 11th hour

The African Union set midnight (2300 GMT) April 30 as a deadline to conclude the talks and said it would not reopen substantial negotiations on the proposed text. It is now 23:18. The deadline has passed.

Reuters report just in by Estelle Shirbon, says the two Darfur rebel groups said they would refuse to sign a peace agreement in its current form. Excerpt:
The Sudanese government said it had decided to sign the Darfur peace deal despite "reservations", and diplomats said the biggest of those centred on disarmament arrangements.

"What this (agreement) means, in effect, is that the government has to disarm the Janjaweed at a time when the rebels will still have their forces fully deployed, albeit in defensive positions," said a diplomat closely involved in the talks.

Observers said a trade-off was still possible whereby the government would grant the rebels a few concessions in exchange for a watering down of the Janjaweed disarmament provision.
[Perhaps tomorrow morning we'll awaken to more hopeful news. Whatever, agreements are worth no more than the paper they are written on if there is no real commitment. The rebels have proved insincere and not interested in peace. God help the women and children of Darfur.]

Darfur rebels SLM & JEM reject peace deal, talks continue

The rebel SLM and the JEM have issued statements of a "joint position" not to sign the AU-brokered peace accord.

"This document is not acceptable to us, and we are not going to go by it or sign it," JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussain said.

AU spokesman Noureddine Mezni warned the mediators' assignment "is over at 12:00 midnight."

"A couple of hours' slip is no problem, of course, you can stop the clock and continue," Pronk said after the afternoon meeting.

"But the AU has set the deadline. I think the moment of truth is now. We have reached more or less the end of possibilities. (The rebels) have to sign tomorrow," he added.

"As mediators, the AU deadline and document will not change," the AU spokesman said earlier in reaction to the rebel statements.

"Our position is supported by the UN Security Council and if the agreement is not signed they know what to do," he added.

"I did remind the parties this afternoon on the need to sign the agreement, but you cannot continue day after day repeating the old positions. It is not a serious representation of the people who you claim to fight for," Pronk said.

"If the government of Sudan is willing to accept the pressure of the international community to sign, and the parties are not ready to do so, then they have to bear the brunt," he said.

"And these are political consequences which the UN Security Council will decide."

Pronk praised the behaviour in the talks of the Sudanese government. "They have taken a decision that they can sign the document though they said they did not like the document a hundred percent," he said.

Full report Sudan Tribune Apr 30, 2006.

Sudan rebels JEM refuse to sign Darfur peace deal

Sudan Darfur rebel group JEM said on Sunday it would refuse to sign a proposed peace agreement in its current form.

"We are not going to accept this document for signature unless there are fundamental changes made to the document," Ahmed Tugod, JEM chief negotiator, told Reuters.

The African Union set midnight (2300 GMT) on Sunday as a deadline to conclude the talks and said it would not reopen substantial negotiations on the proposed text.

Darfur rebels stall Peace deal Sudanese gov't willing to sign

Just in from Reuters via Times of Oman: The Sudanese government accepted Darfur peace deal today and said any outstanding disagreements on issues such as security and power-sharing could be negotiated later. On security, diplomats say the rebels want more favourable terms for a planned integration of some of their forces into the Sudanese army. Apart from security, their main problem with the document is that it does not meet their demands for Darfur to get a new post of Sudanese vice president and a new regional government. They have other objections on issues such as compensation.

Also, the following news reports just in, mid afternoon here in England, UK, Sunday April 30:

Voice of America: The rebels say the proposed deal fails to give Darfur a vice presidential position in the Sudanese government. Rebel leaders also want better terms for integrating their forces into the Sudanese army, and for disarming pro-government Janjaweed militias. The Sudanese government has said it is willing to sign the draft agreement. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, says the successful completion of the Abuja talks would improve the situation of Darfur's two million refugees. Arbour is in Khartoum ahead of a visit to Darfur beginning Monday.

Lebanese Al-Manar TV: On deadline day, Sudan agrees to sign a Darfur peace deal but rebels threaten to pullout - A spokesman for one of the Darfur rebel groups, JEM, told reporters his side wanted prior guarantees from the international community that the peace deal would be enforced.

China Broadcast/Reuters: Sudan Accepts Darfur Peace Deal - "The [Sudanese] government ... wishes to confirm its decision to formally accept this document and its readiness to sign it," said a statement from Majzoub al-Khalifa, head of the government's negotiating team at peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria.

UK Darfur peace proposal accepted - The rebels have yet to respond officially to the 85-page document but several of their leaders complain that it does not meet their key demands, in particular on power sharing.

Associated Press: Sudan says it's ready to sign Darfur deal -
The Sudanese government formally confirmed Sunday that it is ready to sign a draft agreement with rebels from its Darfur region, but the rebels said they still have reservations about the deal. "We have some reservations about the draft peace agreement," said Ahmed Hussein, a spokesman for one of the two rebel factions, the JEM. "We are going to forward our reservations to the mediation after our meeting." Another rebel faction, the SLM, has asked for an extension to the Sunday deadline.

As of Wednesday, when an initial draft of the agreement was first circulated, the proposed agreement addressed complaints from Darfur rebel groups that they had been neglected by the national government. It called for the president to include a Darfur expert, initially nominated by the rebels, among his top advisers.

The draft, noting that Darfur was "historically deprived" and suffered severely from the war, also called for the establishment of a rehabilitation fund to which international donors would be asked to contribute, suspension of school fees at all levels for students from Darfur for five years, and the adoption of a national anti-poverty plan. In the draft, mediators also proposed that the people of Darfur vote by 2010 on whether to create a single geographical entity out of the three current Darfur states, which would presumably have more political weight. The draft agreement calls for the disarmament of the Janjaweed. It also calls for some rebels to be integrated into the national army and security forces and others to be disarmed.
Reuters (Estelle Shirbon): Darfur rebels say they are talking amongst themselves to seek a consensus on whether to sign a peace deal -
Decision-making is an arduous process for them as they are split into two movements and three factions with a history of infighting. The AU started meeting with one of the SLA factions on Sunday to hear their reaction to the document.

Minni Arcua Minnawi, the leader of the other SLA faction, said his group would give its position to the AU later in the day and was not ready yet to say what that was.

The other group, the JEM, was expected to give a separate submission. JEM's chief negotiator, Ahmed Tugon, said the government's statement "is an attempt to increase pressure on the movements and it clearly indicates that this document favours the position of the government."

The [no-frills] Chida International Hotel at the epicentre of the negotiations was packed with diplomats and Sudanese representatives. The atmosphere in the hotel was charged as pressure built to reach a deal.

Meetings involving all the parties continued through the night and into the day. Sudanese and diplomatic sources said SLA rebels and the government had held direct talks.
Sudan Tribune: Darfur rebels may reject peace agreement -
"I don't think we are going to accept the AU proposal. We have not got enough time to go through the document," said Saisaledin Haroun, a spokesman for the main faction of the SLM. He said the SLM had received the Arabic version of the draft accord only on Saturday. "We are not satisfied with the AU document," Haroun added, adding that the SLM would coordinate with another rebel outfit, the JEM, to forge a "common position" by the end of the day. JEM chief negotiator Ahmed Tugod said his group had "resolved not to sign the AU peace agreement", although he said this could change after its talks with the SLM.

AU spokesman Noureddine Mezni said that the bloc's mediation team "has not received any reply to the peace proposal either from JEM or from SLM".

"Our position on the issue is very clear. We are sticking to the deadline we set, which has the support of the United Nations," he said.

"We in the AU are mediators. The parties to the conflict are going to be the implementors of the peace accord. We have done our job and we are still maintaining contacts with them on the matter," he said.

The UN secretary general's special representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, and his AU counterpart Baba Gana Kingibe are expected to hold "intensive consultations" Sunday with the parties with a view to pressurising them to sign the peace deal, a member of the mediation team said.

Sudan children will want to know why they're living in Chad

Emily Wax is the Nairobi bureau chief for The Washington Post. She has travelled to Sudan more than 12 times since the Darfur conflict began. Excerpt from her report Loss of hope in Darfur refugee camps published April 30, 2006:
The Darfur crisis is getting wide and more complicated. The mayhem has spread into Chad, where 60,000 Chadians have been forced from their homes by incursions by the Janjaweed, and by a dozen different Chadian rebel groups backed by Sudan, as well as by various bandits and mercenaries.

In another, lesser-known example of the conflict's spillover, thousands of people in the Central African Republic are being displaced by violence as the various militias backed by the Sudanese government use the lawless area to transport weapons.

The Darfur rebel groups, who once fought the government, are now fighting each other and appear less willing to compromise at peace talks underway in Nigeria.

In an audiotape broadcast last week, Osama bin Laden urged Muslims to rise up in protest of any U.N. or NATO intervention.

My e-mail in-box immediately was filled with outraged messages from Darfurians who had kept in touch and lived in cities around Sudan.

"I believe -- as many of my fellow Darfurians do -- bin Laden is very mistaken by calling for Jihad in Darfur," Ahmad Shugar, a Darfur leader, wrote in an e-mail. ". . . We are all Muslims here. It is really humiliating when a fellow Muslim looks down on you and calls for jihad against you."
Note, in the report, Emily Wax says no Western reporter had yet been let into government-controlled Darfur. To avoid misunderstandings President Bashir could do himself, his colleagues and fellow citizens a favour by opening up to the BBC to help the world learn about the culture and mindset of Sudanese folk and their politics (not religion which ought to be separate from government - there are thousands of different religions!)
- - -

UN helps collapsing states to get back on their feet

"The situation in Chad, Sudan's neighbour, is getting out of control" writes Jan Pronk, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, in his blog entry Apr 18, 2006 - excerpt:
"... like with regard to so many countries of Africa, the international community will have to apply wisdom, determination and a concerted approach in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and to help a collapsing state to get back on its feet. Thereafter the Chadians themselves, like the Sudanese, will have to decide how they together can turn a nearly failing state into a surviving nation and a sustainable society."
Chad rebels

Photo: A collection of weapons, including surface-to-air missiles and heavy machine guns, with various other supplies are displayed in the Chad capital N'Djemena, Friday, April 14, 2006. Chad's president broke off relations with Sudan and threatened to expel 200,000 refugees from the neighboring Darfur region after parading more than 250 captured rebels through the streets of the capital following a violent attempt to overthrow him. (AP Photo/Abakar Saleh)

Death toll in Darfur war now exceeds 450,000 - Reeves

Eric Reeves says current data strongly suggest that total excess mortality in Darfur, over the course of more than three years of deadly conflict, now significantly exceeds 450,000. Full report Sudan Tribune April 28, 2006.

Now or never for Darfur as peace talks enter twilight zone

A lot is riding on the April 30 deadline. Jan Pronk, chief UN envoy in Sudan, said the mediators might be willing to extend the talks a few days at most.

"It's now or never," he said.

Full report by Ian Mather Diplomatic Correspondent Scotsman April 30, 2006.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Darfur conflict is political and tribal says Pronk: Sudan will take decades to install culture of peace and trust

Next to the political conflict in Darfur there are many tribal conflicts. They require diligent reconciliation efforts. Traditional leaders and practices can play an important role. Still, many reconciliation efforts fail. There is a culture of mistrust and manipulation.

Read more by UN SGSR Jan Pronk in his blog entry April 28, 2006.

Protestors at Sudanese Embassy, Washington - Massive rallying across the USA in protest of killings in Darfur

Probably the largest anti-genocide rally in history is taking place April 30 in Washington, DC writes Dr Jim Moore in one of several great picture posts at Passion of the Present:

Pressure on White House builds in advance of the rally.


President Bush supports the rally, and met with its organisers April 28.

For a video of the President's remarks, click here.

Darfur advocates meet US President GW Bush

Photo: President GW Bush meeting at White House with leading advocates for Darfur, including Simon Deng, Dave Rubenstein, Elisa Massimo, Faith McDonnell, Gloria White-Hammond, Jerry Fowler, David Saperstein, Keith Roderick.

George Clooney (L) & US Sen Barack Obama

Photo: Hollywood actor George Clooney (L) and US Senator Barack Obama at a press conference April 27 at the National Press Club in Washington to bring attention to the atrocities in Darfur and the rally. Click here for a video from CNN.

Many thousands of protestors are expected to rally in support of the people of Darfur at demonstrations across America Sunday, April 30.

Darfur protest in Washington

Photo: From left to right, Marialanna Lee, Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, and Eve Fox, hold up signs and pictures during a demonstration outside the Sudanese Embassy in protest of the killing in Darfur, Friday, April 28, 2006 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Five members of Congress arrested during Darfur protest

Photo: Five members of Congress were arrested at the Sudanese Embassy, Washington and led away in handcuffs Friday to protest the killings in Darfur.

Turn up your sound and view Protect Darfur Film.

Some voices in blog land

Ethan Blogs before the rally (USA)

Eugene blogs a Reminder (USA)

The Black Iris of Jordan blogs The Forgotten Voices of Darfur (Jordan)

American (I think) blogger Jorg in Europe commented here at Sudan Watch saying he can't attend a Darfur rally in the U.S. April 30 so he's organized an online rally for Darfur together with many other German Bloggers. (Germany)

Rosemary's blog highlights a 'Virtual Rally' for those who cannot go to DC (USA)

Steve at Coaliton for Darfur blogs some opinion pieces and articles On the Darfur rally in D.C. (USA)

Eugene of Coaltion for Darfur has posted links to Passion of the Present re Thousands Gather in D.C. at Rally [thanks - my efforts to get permalinks at PoTP are not working - newsfeed to PoTP is broken too]

May 1 2006 Jim Moore Thousands Rally Sunday to Save Darfur - links to several stories at Passion of the Present

[More to be added here later, as and when I find links]

Apr 30 2006 Washington (ST) Protests in US cities seek to "Save Darfur"

May 1 2006 Reuters SA Thousands in US rally against Darfur killing

TEXT- Draft of Darfur Peace Agreement

Draft of Darfur Peace Agreement download (Word, 407 kb) available at end of opinion piece by John Akec, Sudan Tribune Apr 28, 2006.

Click here to see Highlights of Darfur Peace Agreement, last-minute modifications.

UPDATE: Declaration of Commitment to the Darfur Peace Agreement

SLM stalls Darfur Peace Agreement

Here's no surprise. Darfur rebel group SLM said yesterday it needed more time to consider the Draft Peace Agreement and asked for a deadline extension from Nigerian President Obasanjo, who they say pressured the warring sides to sign the proposed deal, Ireland Online reported today - excerpt:
"We requested of the president that by April 30 it is not possible for us to conclude on our position. I will not be able to say how long because it is a technical issue," said Waheed Al-Nur, one of the group's leaders. Obasanjo wasn't available for comment.

The other rebel group, JEM, said it had only received a copy of the deal written in English - a language it said 70% of its delegates can't read - and that it was waiting for the document in Arabic.

Obasanjo personally met with the heads of each delegation and rebels said he leaned on the groups to sign the deal.

"We met President Obasanjo. He was urging the parties to put initials on the documents," said Ahmed Tugod, a leader of the smaller and newer JEM faction.
Apr 29 2006 (WP/Reuters) Rebels Say Draft Peace Accord on Darfur Is Not Yet Acceptable - "The deadline of April 30 is impossible because we need time. ... Our rights must be in the document or else we will not accept it," said Abdel Wahed Mohammed al-Nur, who heads a faction in the Sudan Liberation Army.

April 29 2006 (Reuters) Darfur rebels undecided on peace deal - "We want to have consensus within the movement before giving our final position," said Abduljabbar Dosa, chief negotiator of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) rebel group. Field commanders from Darfur have joined the negotiating teams in Abuja as the rebels seek to unite their positions. They have yet to officially respond to the AU, but several leaders have said they are dissatisfied with the draft.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Darfur's SLM/A rebels refuse to disarm until after end of six-year transition period

Yesterday, a spokesman for the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) said it viewed the draft peace agreement's stances on power-sharing and disarmament as too tailored to Khartoum's demands, claims an unsourced report from Khartoum published in the Sudan Tribune April 27, 2006 - excerpt:
"The peace plan is much closer to the government's plans as opposed to being balanced," Mahjoub Hussein said by phone from Libya on Thursday.

"The movement can absolutely not disarm until after the end of the six-year transition period proposed by the plan", he said. "This is a red line for the SLM."
[A six-year "transition" period? What does this mean - Darfurians to vote in six years time to break away from Sudan? Is that why the rebels are insisting on a Darfurian securing a Vice-Presidency position, to have the same sort of deal as South Sudan? Why is such a proposition not being discussed openly? Surely such a deal won't be signed by Sunday! This could go on for years. Hey George Clooney et al: you're wasting your time and playing (with fire) into the rebels' hands! - read important excerpt here below entitled "Darfur's JEM rebel group dismisses Darfur peace talks"]

UPDATE: In the draft peace agreement, mediators also proposed that the people of Darfur vote by 2010 on whether to create a single geographical entity out of the three current Darfur states.

Apr 28 2006 Sudan Tribune Darfur rebel SLM rejects integration of its forces in the army - Text of London based Al-Hayat interview over Internet with Mahjoub Hussein, spokesman for the SLM/A in western Sudan Darfur: "We will not lay down our arms and we will not decommission our elements before the end of the interim period and the formation of the new Sudanese army" ... "I will head soon to Ndjamena to congratulate President Deby on his victory over the brutal aggression and hand him fresh documents that prove the involvement of the Sudan government and Sudanese intelligence organs in (the attempt) to change the regime in Chad."

Darfur's JEM rebels at peace talks

Photo: SLM's Abdelwahed Mohamed al-Nur (L) while SLM's Minni Minnawi on right at Darfur peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria November 29, 2005. In the centre Ahmed Tugod of the JEM. (Reuters)

Majzoub Al-Khalifa

Photo: Majzoub Al-Khalifa, head of the Sudanese government's delegation (C) together with other delegates, makes a speech at the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, Tuesday, April 25, 2006. African Union mediators presented a draft peace agreement to warring parties in Darfur, telling the Khartoum government and rebel groups that the world was watching as a deadline for a deal by April 30 looms. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Darfur's JEM rebel group dismisses Darfur peace talks

Excerpt from a report Apr 1 2006 Sudanese rebel group JEM dismisses peace talks and calls for Darfur's sovereignty:
The chair of Darfur rebels group JEM, Khalil Mohammed, on Wednesday dismissed Darfur peace talks as "a waste of time, energy and resources of stakeholders." He said the peace talks would not achieve any meaningful result as they were "merely going in circles."

Mohammed said that if the African Union's April deadline for peace in the region lapsed without success, "the people of Darfur will be left with no choice other than to ask for self-determination".

"If we do not get our own sovereignty, the only alternative is a forceful change of the government in Khartoum," Chairman of Darfur rebel group JEM threatened.
Darfur rebel SLM-JEM announce new alliance

Photo: Khalil Ibrahim Muhammad, President JEM rebel group - click on image for more details. Note Apr 21 2006 report: Chad expels JEM rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim after occupation of Sudanese embassy. Also, see Sep 30 2004 BBC Who are Sudan's Darfur rebels?: JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim Muhammad published The Black Book: Imbalance of Power and Wealth in the Sudan, which accuses Arabs of having a disproportionate representation at the top levels of government and administration]

Darfur, a region mired in conflict

There was no armed political movement in Darfur until Feb 2003, when a Darfur Liberation Front emerged, splitting into the SLM and JEM, Sudan Tribune article Apr 28, 2006 explains -
The JEM is said to have up to 7,000 men while the armed branch of the SLM has 16,000 fighters. The rebels claim to control all the rural areas while the Sudanese army remains confined, they say, to the main cities in the region.

In Feb 2004 the SLM joined the ranks of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a coalition which groups part of the northern opposition to Khartoum and the southern rebels.
Further reading

Mar 3 2006 Give peace a chance - Sending UN into Darfur is no solution - Janjaweed will be very tough to stop by force alone

Mar 5 2006 All-inclusive Darfur Conference - UN force in Darfur only upon AU request - Pronk

Mar 15 2006 Warlordism on the increase - More troops in Darfur not much of a solution - Sudan's tribal: Janjaweed and major tribes have to be part of peace talks

Mar 21 2006 UN Security Council Report on Darfur: Power, Wealth Sharing Agreement; All-Inclusive Dialogue; New Ceasefire; Robust peace force with broad mandate

Mar 24 2006 Sharia row hits South Sudan peace deal - Sudan's SPLM pull out of team drafting Khartoum constitution

Mar 30 2006 Darfur-Darfur dialogue (DDDC) to be organised after signing of Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)

Apr 10 2006 Why a more robust force in Darfur needs to be a UN force

Apr 15 2006 Don't Intervene in Darfur: Let the African Union do it

Finally, for a change, here's some wonderful news: click into Building Bridges for Peace among Tribes in Southern Sudan.

SLM/A rebels attacking UN and NGO aid workers in N Darfur

Unless rebel attacks against UN and other relief operations in a northern sector of Darfur stop immediately, the UN will be forced to suspend all assistance to 450,000 vulnerable people living in the area until safety can be assured, a top UN official warned today. Snippets from UN News Centre report:
SGSR Jan Pronk called on the rebel SLA to stop attacks on aid workers in Darfur. The UN will hold responsible the armed groups, including those related to the SLA, and their leaders for the failure to assist the extremely vulnerable populations under their control, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said in a statement.

Over the past few weeks, aid workers operating for UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have come under continuous attacks and harassment by armed groups in the Shangil Tobayi, Tawilla and Kutum areas of North Darfur, with several reports indicating that many of the attacks were waged by SLA factions.

Self serving SLM/A don't care for their people or peace

IRIN report just in, tells us:
Abdulwaheed Al-Nur, leader of the Sudanese Liberation Movement, said after a meeting with Nigerian president and AU mediator Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday that the key demands of his rebel group are not contained in the deal tabled by the AU, and that it is "almost impossible" that his group will sign it.

Al-Nur said the failure to allocate the Vice President slot to a Darfurian is one of the biggest sticking points for his group. The deal proposed by the AU includes an extensive section on power sharing, but the highest position allocated to a Darfurian is "senior presidential adviser", the fourth highest position in government.
What a cheek. They are not even fit to govern! After two years of following almost every news report on these guys, it's becoming impossible to see why they think they are better than the regime they're trying to remove by force. They make me sick. Bah. Puke. Crawl back into the hole where you came from, you greedy fat flea brained gorilla faced self serving moronic lowlifes.

Take a look at an example of their "presidential decrees" and obsession with power while 400,000 of their people perished and 2 million became homeless:

Apr 13 2006 Sudan Liberation Movement/Army The office of the Chairman Presidential Decree No. (6) For the Year 2006 Darfur SLM/A leader appoints 2nd Vice-President, Advisors

Apr 20 2006 Sudan Liberation Movement/Army The office Presidential Decree No. (8) For the Year 2006 Darfur SLM/A leader appoints Executive, Regional Secretaries


Photo: Teenage Sudan Liberation Army fighters (Alarab)

12 killed, 2 injured in rebel clashes in Darfur

According to a report at Alarab today, up to 12 died and 2 were injured in clashes among Darfur rebels in the area of Tawela in northern Darfur.

UN threatens to suspend aid in Darfur blaming rebels and SLA attacks in North Darfur

The UN threatened today to suspend relief operations in parts of Darfur because of continued attacks against aid workers by rebel fighters, Mail & Guardian reported - excerpt:
The UN blames the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), the armed wing of the Sudan Liberation Movement, the main rebel group in the region, for a spate of attacks in north Darfur. "Several reports indicate that many of these attacks have been waged by SLA factions. Armed robbery and hijackings have endangered humanitarian workers assisting over 450,000 vulnerable people living in the area," it said in a statement.

It added that the UN has "credible information" that armed groups have also commandeered vehicles for military purposes, something it said is "unacceptable and contrary to international humanitarian law".

"Unless these attacks and harassment stop immediately, the UN and its partners will be obliged to suspend all relief assistance to this particular area till effective safety for humanitarian personnel and assets are guaranteed."

The organisation said it will hold armed groups and their leaders responsible "for the failure to assist the extremely vulnerable populations under their control".

Darfur food aid cut in half - 6.1m in Sudan reliant on aid

Despite a two year ceasefire and peace talks, large areas of Darfur are still affected by fighting between government forces, militias and so-called rebels.

Not only are these people responsible for the loss of some 400,000* lives, they also continue to hamper the delivery of food and other aid operations to 3m in Darfur who are totally reliant on emergency aid.

Today, the BBC says the UN is cutting in half its daily rations in Darfur due to a severe funding shortfall.
More than 6.1m people across Sudan require food aid - more than any other country in the world. The bill to feed them all is $746m. African Union troops in Darfur cost Western donors at least $20 million each month. Not to mention the cost of the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Sudan or the $4.5 billion earmarked for development.
Imagine the number of water pumps, school books, farming tools and animals that could be purchased for all those hard earned tax dollars, paid for through the work of ordinary Westerners.

Time is up. If those scumbags at the Darfur peace talks don't sign a peace agreement soon and stick to it, they should all be arrested and put on trial for mass murder and crimes against humanity. They've been given enough time.

Darfur women scratching around for grain

Photo: Teams of women carefully brush up grains of cereals that spilled from bags air dropped by the World Food Programme, August 15, 2004. See April 28, 2006 WFP halving Darfur rations on funds shortage

Apr 24 2006 AU to end Darfur peace talks if no deal by April 30

Apr 25 2006 SLA's President Minni Minnawi threatens to suspend Darfur peace talks

Apr 26 2006 One third of displaced people in Darfur are cut off from aid

Apr 27 2006 The world watches as deadline for Darfur peace deal looms

Apr 27 2006 SLA's President Minni Minnawi takes his time while millions of Darfurians suffer

Apr 27 2006 FT African Union tells Darfur foes to end fighting - "This is decison time. No more procrastination and no more delaying tactics," Dr Salim, AU chief mediatior said in a statement released on Thursday. "Every journey has a destination and for the Abuja peace talks this is the end."

Apr 28 2006 Washington Post Darfur rebels downbeat as push for peace intensifies (Reuters Estelle Shirbon) - "Most of the things that are proposed will not be part of a just peace. We feel there is no movement from the other side," Abduljabbar Dosa, chief negotiator of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) rebel group, told Reuters on the sidelines of the talks. The SLA and the smaller Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have yet to submit their official reaction to the draft agreement, and Dosa said he was expressing a personal view rather than his group's position.

Apr 29 2006 David Blair Telegraph - More than two million refugees inhabiting squalid camps scattered across Darfur depend on the WFP. In Sudan, where the south is recovering from decades of civil war, the WFP feeds 6.1 million people. This costs about 440 million [British] pounds. But donors have provided only about one third of this sum for 2006. America and Britain are the two most generous bilateral donors. Aside from Libya, no Arab state has contributed anything, despite windfall gains from high oil prices and Sudan's membership of the Arab League.

[*UN estimates 2m displaced Darfurians and death toll in Darfur 200,000 Apr 28, 2006]

Rwandan troops leave for peacekeeping mission in Darfur

67 Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) troops have been airlifted to Darfur on an AU peacekeeping mission. The departure coincides with the return of some other 67 RDF troops who had been on the same mission to Sudan.

Apart from the Rwanda Defence Force soldiers in Darfur and Khartoum,
50 officials of the national police are in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum keeping law and order under the UN Mission in the Sudan, UNMIS, and the AU Mission in Sudan, AMIS.

Rwandan soldiers on way to Darfur, Sudan

Photo: Rwandan soldiers belonging to the African Union force wait to board a plane to be dispatched to the Darfur region of Sudan. Gen James Kabarebe said that the six-months assignment by the AU is in recognition of the excellent skills and discipline that have been exhibited by the Rwanda Defence Force troops while they were carrying out their peacekeeping duties in Darfur and in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. (Sudan Tribune)

AU confirms Sudan gov't bombing of Joghana, S Darfur - In 3 months, 200,000 people forced to flee, says UNICEF

Last year, on February 5, 2005 the Sudanese government said it would remove all its Antonov planes and would not use them at all in Darfur, where it had been accused of using the aircraft to bomb villages.

Air bombing of Darfur

On Monday April 24, 2006, according to reports confirmed by African Union monitors in Darfur, Sudanese government helicopter gunships and Antonov aircraft attacked the village of Joghana in southern Darfur displacing thousands of people seeking shelter from the conflict, the Scotsman's Rob Crilly in Nairobi reported Apr 28. Two other villages have been attacked in the past ten days. Snippets from Crilly's report:
"This latest violence seems part of a strategy to clear the main road south from Nyala, the state capital, to Buram," said a UN source in Khartoum.

Aid workers in the neighbouring rebel-held town of Gereida report a daily influx of people fleeing government attacks and tribal leaders say that 320 villages have been attacked this year.

Paul Smith-Lomas, Oxfam regional director, said the situation all across Darfur had deteriorated. "In the last four months approximately forty thousand people have fled their villages seeking refuge in Gereida," he said. "Thousands more continue to arrive, scared and in desperate need of help."

Looting and attacks along the Nyala-Gereida road have limited the delivery of essential equipment and materials for assisting the estimated 90,000 people in the town, which had a population of 10,000 people when the conflict began.

Three years of fighting between rebels and Khartoum-backed militias in Sudan have left up to 300,000 people dead and 2.4 million displaced, according to international estimates.

Last week the International Committee of the Red Cross warned that much of the region had become inaccessible to aid workers. The result has been a 20 per cent increase in malnutrition rates among children, according to UNICEF officials, as 200,000 people were forced to flee their homes in the past three months.

Seasoned Darfur watchers say it is no surprise that the talks have coincided with fresh violence. "This happens every time a peace deal is on the table," said a Sudan expert based in Nairobi.

"Both sides step up their offensives in an attempt to grab a bit more land before they have to put down the guns."
AU chopper in Darfur

Photo: Dec 19 2004 Darfur truce not being observed, AU chopper fired on: African Union - "One of our helicopters has been shot. They are firing on our helicopters. This shows that the ceasefire is not being observed. They did not comply. They have not stopped fighting," AU spokesman Assane Ba told reporters in Abuja. (Marco Longari/AFP)


Photo: Terbeba village in Darfur after being burnt last year. An Associated Press report Jan 26 2005 says the African Union confirms Sudan's air force used an Antonov to drop bombs outside the southern Darfur town of Shangil Tobaya, 65 kilometers south of El Fasher Jan 26 2005. "It is a major ceasefire violation," said a senior AU political officer for Sudan.

Related reports

Oct 3 2005 Sudan admits using helicopter gunships in attack on Shearia South Darfur

Feb 3 2006 AU says SLA attacks in Shearia and Golo provoked Sudanese forces and prompted reprisal attacks by Janjaweed

Feb 5 2005 Sudanese government said it would remove all its Antonov planes and would not use them at all in Darfur

Feb 14 2006 SLA shot down gov't helicopter in Shearia, South Darfur

Feb 21 2006 UK urges lifting of Sudan curfew - AU says curfew hinders Darfur peacekeepers

Mar 2 2006 Gereida, South Darfur - "I know how many women and children have been killed. That is ethnic cleansing, and it should stop," UN envoy Pronk declared

Mar 11 2006 AU calls for SLA to withdraw from Gereida, South Darfur - JEM rebels say 27 killed by gov't, Janjaweed in Gereida area

Mar 15 2006 Warlordism on the increase - More troops in Darfur not much of a solution - Sudan's tribal: Janjaweed and major tribes have to be part of peace talks

Mar 16 2006 Sudanese air force bombed villages of Donkey Dreisa and Omgonya in South Darfur last month?

Apr 3 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?

Apr 25 2006 Oil in South Darfur - Uranium in Darfur? - Iran 'could share nuclear skills'

Apr 26 2006 Sudanese gov't bombing of Joghana village may be part of broader offensive in South Darfur - HRW

Apr 27 2006 UN experts propose possible no-fly zone in Darfur

Note Coalition for International Justice DARFUR CHRONOLOGY: Glossary of Places in Darfur which were sites of reported attacks.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sudanese Embassy says the 'Stop Genocide' rallies April 30 tells Darfur rebels: "Don't Make Peace. The US supports you"

In response to massive 'Stop Genocide' rallies being held across America on April 30 to urge the Bush Administration to intervene in Sudan, the Sudanese Embassy in Washington has released a Statement asking demonstrators to "Think About Their Actions" - excerpt:
"Today, the organisers of the April 30th rally include veterans of the Sudan Coalition. As part of their protest they are targeting the peace negotiations in Abuja, Nigeria, which, by all accounts, will reach a successful conclusion in the very near future. By implication, the message that will be sent by the demonstrators to the Darfur rebels is: Don't Make Peace. The US supports you. These are the same misdirected, naive tactics that delayed a peace deal in Sudan for more than eight years. Yet we are certain that delaying peace is not the reason why so many of you are motivated to participate in this rally.

There is a human tragedy today in Darfur that will be most effectively and quickly addressed through peace negotiations, not rhetoric. Peace will not be achieved by sending the wrong message at just the wrong time to the perpetrators of that tragedy, the Darfur rebels, who demonstrated their goals and methods through violent attacks in Southern Darfur earlier this week."
[Note, I doubt the message will be understood by many people. From what I can gather, most Americans speaking out about Darfur appear to view Khartoum regime as the bad guys. As a human rights advocate, my view is any party using violence to get their own way are bad guys - talks are the only way to settle disputes]

Washington foments division - Propaganda for NATO intervention

Snippets from an opinion piece at Workers World by G. Dunkel Apr 27, 2006 "Oil is behind struggle in Darfur":
The US government, among others, is trying to exacerbate these differences by defining this conflict as between "Arab vs. black." Washington has accused Sudan of "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing." However, Paul Moorcraft, a British expert on Sudan, points out, "Darfur's Arabs are black, indigenous African Muslims - just like Darfur's non-Arabs."

The New York Times, whose right-wing columnist Nicholas D Kristof just won a Pulitzer prize for demanding US intervention in Darfur, supplies the liberal cover for imperialist troop deployment.

Two Zionist groups, the American Jewish World Service and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, have taken a very active role in building a national rally set for April 30 whose main demand is direct US intervention in Darfur to "stop the genocide." The AJWS is pushing to replace the African Union soldiers in Darfur with 20,000 UN or NATO troops.

The US want to get President Deby out and a new president in who relies on it, not France.
[See Mar 23, 2006 DARFUR: Sudan has all the potential ingredients to be a failed state - How to avoid another Iraqi quagmire in Sudan (Dr Paul Moorcraft)]
- - -

Feb 28 2006 UN envoy Jan Pronk cites Al-Qaeda threats to his own life and non-African UN troops deployed to Sudan's Darfur
- - -

Save Darfur Coalition - Rally To Stop Genocide April 30, 2006

Many thousands of people are expected to attend rallies being held on Sunday across America. See details at Save

Hollywood actor George Clooney will speak at the Save Darfur Rally to Stop Genocide in Washington, D.C. A video of his recent trip to southern Sudan and eastern Chad is available at:

UNMIS to start training in N Darfur to enhance AMIS

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) announced that it will start on Saturday a comprehensive training programme in Al-Fasher, Northern Darfur, on Saturday aimed at enhancing the capacities of the African Union (AU) force currently monitoring the region, UN News Centre reported April 27, 2006.

UN experts propose possible no-fly zone in Darfur

With both the Government and rebels in Darfur violating UN resolutions, the Security Council should move swiftly to impose further sanctions, expand an arms embargo, and consider setting up a no-fly zone for government planes, according to the latest report from a panel of experts. Full report UN News Centre April 27, 2006.

SLA's President Minni Minnawi takes his time while millions of Darfurians suffer

Sudanese government negotiators are seeking face-to-face talks with rebel leaders from Darfur about a draft peace agreement proposed by African Union mediators as Sunday's deadline for a deal approaches.

While the Darfur peace talks have dragged on in Abuja, Nigeria for two years and the world watches as an African Union Peace and Security Council April 30 deadline for a peace deal looms, violence has escalated to the point that aid workers cannot reach vast areas of Darfur and the AU says all sides are responsible, Reuters reported today - excerpt:
Minni Arcua Minnawi, head of divided Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) rebel group, said he had not yet decided to discuss the draft settlement directly with the government, but he would do so when necessary.

Minnawi and leaders of two other factions said they did not have any plans for meetings with the government on Thursday and they were still studying the draft.

Minnawi declined to give any comment on the proposed agreement, as did leaders of the other faction of the SLA and of the smaller Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

Minnawi's recent return to Abuja after months of absence suggested he too was serious about making progress, but the situation is more confused on the rebel side because of constant infighting between factions.
Full report by Estelle Shirbon (Reuters) April 27, 2006.

SLA President Minni Minnawi in truck

Photo: Darfur rebel group SLA President Minni Minnawi in truck. Click on image for further details. [Sudan Watch archives Jan 20, 2006] See Sudan Tribune SLA's Minnawi threatens to suspend Darfur peace talks Apr 23 2006.

Darfur rebel SLM-JEM announce new alliance

Photo: Darfur rebel group JEM President Khalil Ibrahim. The International Crisis Group has noted that Mr Ibrahim "is a veteran Islamist and former state minister who sided with the breakaway (Popular Congress) in 2002 and went into exile in the Netherlands. There is additionally evidence of some level of involvement of al-Qaeda with the Islamist JEM organisation." Read more in "Darfur rebel SLM-JEM announce new alliance".

US President issues Executive Order blocking property of persons in connection with Sudan's Darfur conflict

US targeted sanctions: US President George W Bush issued an Executive Order on Thursday freezing the assets of anyone deemed to have posed a threat to the peace process or stability in Darfur, Reuters reported today:
Bush said he was taking the action because "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States is posed by the persistence of violence in Sudan's Darfur region, particularly against civilians."
See Statement by the White House Press Secretary, April 27, 2006.

Note, Coalition for Darfur links to The White House Message to the Congress of the United States April 27, 2006 - and points out the above Executive Order applies only to the four men sanctioned by the UN Security Council earlier this week.

Chad: World Bank set to release oil funds

Analysts expect the money will be spent on weapons and security to bolster Deby's government against heavily-armed rebels and army deserters who have been challenging his regime since 2005, IRIN reported Apr 27.

Amnesty urges Sudan to free detained leader of National Alliance of the Resistance (ANR) of Chad Mohamat Sileck

Amnesty said in a press statement released today that the arrest of the leader of the Alliance Nationale de la Resistance (ANR), Mohamat Sileck is politically motivated - Sileck was arrested by the National Security Forces in the Sudanese capital and is being held in Dabak prison, Khartoum.

Full report Sudan Tribune April 27, 2006 (London)

Mohamat Seleik, President of ANR

Photo: Mohamat Abbo Sileck, President of the National Alliance of the Resistance (ANR) of Chad.

Check out links in sidebars of blogs for Free Mahamat Abbo Sileck and ANR.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The world watches as deadline for Darfur peace deal looms

"As far as this mediation is concerned, this is as far as we can go. The AU has exhausted listening to the arguments on both sides," Sam Ibok, head of the AU mediation team, told Reuters:
He said it was now up to the Sudanese parties to negotiate face-to-face and make any changes they felt were needed in the next few days in order to meet Sunday's deadline for a deal. Several previous deadlines passed without any agreement.

This time, if the parties reject the proposal, the AU would not simply carry on with the talks. Instead, the body's Peace and Security Council would have to decide on a new strategy for the Darfur peace process, Ibok said.

Salim and Ibok at Darfur peace talks

The draft deal is the result of almost two years of arduous negotiations in the Nigerian capital Abuja, during which violence in Darfur has spiralled beyond the control of 7,000 AU peacekeepers who are supposed to monitor a 2004 ceasefire.
The world watches as deadline for Darfur peace deal looms

Photo: Majzoub Al-Khalifa, head of the Sudanese government's delegation makes a speech at the Sudan peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, Apr 25, 2006. African Union mediators presented a draft peace agreement to warring parties in Darfur, telling the Khartoum government and rebel groups that the world was watching as a deadline for a deal looms. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Darfur's JEM rebels at peace talks

Photo: Photo: Members of one of the two main Darfur rebel groups Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) are seen at the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria Nov 29, 2005. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters/Sudan Watch Dec 8, 2005)

Mohamed Tughod, JEM chief negotiator

Photo: Mohamed Tugod, JEM chief negotiator at Darfur peace talks

SLA Secretary-General Minni Arcua Minnawi

Photo: Sudan Liberation Army's (SLA) Secretary-General Minni Arcua Minnawi (C) speaks during the SLA unity conference in Haskanita, in Sudan's eastern Darfur province Oct 29, 2005. Conference ended by voting Minnawi in as SLA president.

Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur

Photo: Abdel Whaed el-Nur the leader of the other faction of the SLA attends at the Darfur peace talks in Abuja Feb 4, 2006. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Oct 3 2005 Darfur peace talks enter final phase

Jan 9 2006 As Darfur peace talks break for Muslim celebration, little progess reported - Who disarms first: Janjaweed or rebels?

Mar 30 2006 Darfur-Darfur dialogue (DDDC) to be organised after signing of Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)

Sudan refusal to issue visas worries UN council

UN Security Council members expressed concern on Wednesday that Sudan's government was still blocking a UN team from visiting Darfur to help plan for a UN peacekeeping mission there later this year.

Khartoum has also been noncommittal on visas for a planned visit by Security Council ambassadors, to be led by Britain and planned for early June, council diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

And in London, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said in a speech to an Easter banquet: "As a matter of urgency, we need to get a UN planning mission into Sudan."

Full report by Irwin Arieff April 26 (Reuters)

Sudanese gov't bombing of Joghana village may be part of broader offensive in South Darfur - HRW

Today, Human Rights Watch picked up on the exclusive news report broadcast by BBC1 television news here in England 10pm Monday 24 April 2006.

Further reading

Apr 25 2006 Darfuris flee bombing of Joghana village by Sudan gov't aircraft and attacks by Janjaweed fighting SLA

Apr 26 2006 BBC evidence of Sudanese government's recent bombing of Joghana, South Darfur

Apr 26 2006 Top British ministers looking into reports of Monday's bombing of Joghana, South Darfur

Apr 26 2006 Joint Ministerial Statement on Darfur - UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Apr 26 2006 UK calls for "full use of sanctions and the arms embargo"

Apr 27 2006 IRIN Fears of new Govt offensive in South Darfur

Apr 27 2006 Bloomberg Sudan Government Steps Up Darfur Attacks, Group Says

Apr 27 2006 Financial Times AU tells Darfur foes to end fighting - Human Rights Watch said two other villages in the area had also been attacked in the last 10 days. "This is no random attack. This is the result of months of preparation by Sudanese officials and co-ordination with militias," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director for Human Rights Watch.

Apr 28 2006 AU confirms Sudanese gov't bombing of Joghana, S Darfur - In three months, 200,000 Darfurians have been forced to flee, says UNICEF

UK calls for "full use of sanctions and the arms embargo"

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has called for "full use of sanctions and the arms embargo" to put pressure on the Sudanese government.

Helping Darfur - Houses of Parliament, London England

Mr Straw said that both the government in Khartoum and rebel groups in Darfur were responsible for daily breaches of the ceasefire agreed in 2004, PA/Guardian reported today - excerpt:
"We should make full use of sanctions and the arms embargo. We should be clear that those who have committed war crimes will face justice in the International Criminal Court. And at the same time we should hold out a positive future for Sudan if a settlement can be reached: international respectability; an end to isolation; debt relief; World Trade Organisation membership; a reconstruction package.

"Meanwhile we have to back up those working on the ground. That means supporting the African Union in its mission and helping it to manage the hand-over to a United Nations force. Indeed, as a matter of urgency, we need to get a UN planning mission into Sudan."

One third of displaced people in Darfur are cut off from aid

In the last three months alone, there had been 200,000 people newly displaced in Darfur, said Ted Chaiban, head of Unicef's mission to Sudan.

In any other country that would be front-page news, he said.

"Southern Darfur has seen both government-rebel fighting but also jockeying for power between the rebel movements," Mr Chaiban said.

About a third of displaced people are cut off from aid as humanitarian agencies cannot reach them because of the fighting.

Sudan: Government opposes UN force in Darfur at this time, Council is told

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi briefed the Council on his recent visit to Darfur to discuss the possible transition from the overstretched AU mission in Darfur to an agile, capable and highly mobile UN peacekeeping force.

It would take six to nine months to fully deploy an operation of this magnitude and complexity, he said, noting that there were two possible options, with one heavier on ground forces and the other being heavier on air assets.

Sudan condemns UN sanctions

Jamal Ibrahim, the foreign ministry spokesman, on Wednesday was quoted by the official SUNA news agency as saying:

"The efforts currently being exerted in Abuja have neared their end, and what is needed now is support and not the use of the stick and negative statements," Ibrahim said after Tuesday's vote in the Security Council. Full report Aljazeera 26 Apr 2006.

Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal

Photo: Sheikh Musa Hilal, the Paramount Chief of the Jalul ethnic group from northern Darfur and a leader of the pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia (C) addresses a crowd in the Sudanese village of Numu, Darfur province, May 8, 2005. (Beatrice Mategwa/Reuters)

Mr Hilal, a man of considerable wealth, is said to live in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, from where he directs his operations. Read more at BBC profiles of Darfur war crime suspects.

Darfur peace deal proposes a Darfurian takes 4th highest-ranking position in Sudan

IRIN report today says the 85-page draft peace agreement for Darfur proposes a Darfurian takes the fourth highest-ranking position in the Presidency with the rank of "senior presidential assistant", a move meant to defuse a deadlock over rebel demands for a Darfurian to be made Vice President.

It also includes compromises to break long-running deadlocks over power sharing, security, and wealth sharing. Full report.

Joint Ministerial Statement on Darfur - UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Press Release - Foreign and Commonwealth Office April 25, 2006 - 10:28 PM

The Foreign Secretary and International Development Secretary today expressed their concern at reports of recent attacks in Darfur, and the possible effect of these on the peace process.

Union Jack

Jack Straw said: "I am appalled to hear of reports of the apparent use of helicopter gunships against a village in Darfur. I am also very concerned about reports of fighting between different rebel factions recently. We are seeking confirmation of these reports. In any event actions such as these are particularly unacceptable as they come during intensive activity by the African Union to secure a peace settlement in Darfur. I call on all sides to stop fighting and to work in good faith for a settlement within the AU's deadline of the end of April."

Hilary Benn said: "The reports indicate that both sets of attacks forced yet more Darfuris from their homes. The UN estimates that over 200,000 Darfuris have had to flee their homes since December, bringing the total since the conflict began to well over two million. Nearly three and a half million people need food aid. This massive human disaster can only begin to be put right once there is a peace deal. Time is running out for all sides in Darfur to live up to their responsibilities and work for a rapid settlement."

Jack Straw to attend Darfur peace talks

Photo: UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw holds talks with Sudanese officials over Darfur during a two-day visit to Sudan. (Islam Online August 24, 2004) Mr Straw attended visited Darfur and attended the peace talks - see BBC photos of the visit.

Top British ministers looking into reports of Monday's bombing of Joghana, South Darfur

An unsourced article at Sudan Tribune today says reports of fresh fighting in Darfur prompted two senior British government ministers to voice their concern and call on all sides to make peace - excerpt:
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and International Development Secretary Hilary Benn were referring to reports that helicopter gunships, allegedly belonging to the Sudanese government, bombed a village called Joghada [Joghana] in southern Darfur on Monday, forcing women and children to flee.

Straw said: "I am appalled to hear of reports of the apparent use of helicopter gunships against a village in Darfur."

He also highlighted other clashes between different rebel groups and said Britain was trying to confirm the reports.

BBC evidence of Sudanese government's recent bombing of Joghana, South Darfur

The BBC has evidence of a recent attack by Sudanese government forces on Jogana [Joghana], a remote village (12 miles East of Kano) in southern Darfur, western Sudan.

As noted here at Sudan Watch yesterday [see Darfuris flee bombing of Joghana village by Sudan gov't aircraft and attacks by Janjaweed fighting SLA] BBC correspondent Orla Guerin in Darfur witnessed many people fleeing and could hear the sound of bombing from 40km (25 miles) away. The number of casualties is unknown. Click here to view video of Orla Guerin's report aired here in England on BBC1 TV 10pm Monday April 24, 2006.

Note, Orla Guerin says the attack took place at 7am (presumably on the day it was aired by the BBC) and African Union soldiers in the area drove away before dark, implying they did not care to protect the frightened villagers. Pity she did not explain that due to a curfew imposed by Sudanese authorities, AU soldiers are not permitted to travel after dark.

Why hasn't the media picked up on this story, particularly the bombing and curfew? Last year, when faced with the threat of a no-fly zone, the Sudanese government promised not to use aircraft for bombing raids on Darfur villages and civilians. But so far, it appears only Garowe Online, Somalia has publicised the BBC report.

On the issue of sanctions imposed yesterday by the UN Security Council, the BBC's correspondent at the UN headquarters in New York, Laura Trevelyan, said the sanctions could be difficult to enforce. BBC's Jonah Fisher in Khartoum, says the effect of the sanctions will be more psychological than physical.

One wonders why sanctions were imposed now, at such a crucial stage in the peace talks, on the same day a draft peace agreement was presented by the AU to the warring parties. Pity there is so little investigative reporting. If the Sudanese government feels misjudged, they ought to open up to responsible broadcasters like the BBC and provide timely, factual interviews and press releases. We don't know half of what really goes on. Greedy, ruthless, ambitious, self serving men using defenceless women and children as pawns in a power game are getting away with murder and there is not much we can do about it except watch it happening in real time, like ghouls.

[Thanks to Eric at TPoTP for pointing out the link to a video of Orla Guerin's report]

US, Chad discuss delaying of presidential election

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto said Tuesday that he had discussed Chad postponing its presidential election, which is eight days away, in talks with Chadian President Idriss Deby but declined to go into details. (AP)

TEXT- AU Mediator urges Sudanese to accept Darfur Peace Agreement

In his speech before the Sudanese parties at Abuja peace talks on Darfur crisis, the African Union Chief Mediator Dr Salim Ahmed Salim urged the delegates to "accept these proposals and sign on to the Darfur Peace Agreement at the earliest time possible".

Today, the Sudan Tribune publishes full text of the Statement of Dr Salim on the occasion of the submission of the draft Darfur Peace Agreement to the Sudanese parties.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

UN votes yes to sanctions on 4 Sudanese for Darfur war

Just in from Reuters via Scotsman: the UN Security Council voted today to impose sanctions on four Sudanese accused of abuses in the Darfur conflict - excerpt of report by Evelyn Leopold:
The vote on a US-drafted resolution was 12 to 0 with three abstentions -- Russia, China and Qatar, the only Arab member of the 15-nation council.

The sanctions, a travel ban and a freeze on assets abroad, were the first adopted against individuals involved in the Darfur war. The measures were first authorised by the Security Council in March 2005 against those who thwart peace efforts, violate human rights or conduct military flights over Darfur.

The four men, whittled down from a longer British list, include one Sudanese air force commander, one pro-government militia member, and two rebel leaders.
Note, sponsoring the resolution were the United States, Britain, Argentina, Denmark, France, Japan, Peru and Slovakia. See Apr 25 2006 UN draft resolution names four men who would face sanctions.

Apr 25 2006 UN News Centre - Security Council imposes travel, financial sanctions on 4 Sudanese, adopting Resolution 1672 (2006) BY 12-0-3

Apr 25 2006 CNN - Diplomats said they dropped their objections after African nations expressed support for the sanctions.

Sudan: Uranium in Darfur? - Iran 'could share nuclear skills'

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says willing to transfer nuclear technology to Sudan, Associated Press reported today.

Khamenei has said his country is ready to share its nuclear technology with other nations, BBC reported today - excerpt:
Ayatollah Khamenei made the offer during a meeting with visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

In his meeting with Mr Bashir, Ayatollah Khamenei said Iranian scientists' nuclear capability was "one example of the numerous scientific movements in the country".

"The Islamic Republic is ready to transfer this experience and the technology and knowledge of its scientists," the leader was quoted as saying.

In return, the Sudanese president praised Iran's enrichment of uranium as a great victory for the Islamic world.

Mr Bashir said last month his country was considering creating a civilian nuclear programme.
Sudanese president in Iran

Photo: Iranian Ahmadinejadand his Sudanese counterpart Sudanese President al-Bashir listen to Sudan's national anthem after his arrival in Tehran April 24, 2006 (Reuters) - see Sudan Tribune Apr 25 2006 Iran, Sudan discuss bilateral cooperation, investment

Further reading

Dec 4 2004 France is interested in Uranium and has drilling rights in Sudan (Oil and Mineral Riches in Darfur - Uranium discovered in Hofrat Al Nihas) and this excerpt, from a blog entry I wrote August 2, 2004:
At the moment I am searching for maps to pinpoint Hofrat Al Nihas. (Other names: Hofrat el Nahas, Hofrat en Nahas, Hufrat an Nahas, Hofrat en Nahas). I think it may be in South Darfur - maybe close to a border [--] Here's why:

Khaleej Times Online excerpt: "The oil and precious mineral resources such as uranium discovered in Hofrat Al Nihas have set off fierce competition between US and France. The US has started to invest in oil industry in Chad, France's former colony, while France Total company obtained drilling rights in Sudan."
Aug 8 2004 BBC - Press suspicion is rife in Sudan itself, where a writer in Al-Ra'y al-Am calls for dialogue and warns that outside powers could exploit the crisis to control Darfur's reputed mineral resources. "The Naivasha method and spirit ... are the best way of resolving the problem and foiling the desires of foreign states that want Darfur's uranium, copper and oil," the article says, referring to the peace talks in Kenya between the Sudanese government and rebels from the south of the country.

Dec 20 2004 Rebels attack Darfur oil

Apr 3 2005 Oil found in South Darfur

Apr 16 2005 Sudan says oil discovered in Darfur

Apr 18 2005 New oil field in Darfur expected to produce crude oil by August 2005

Jean-Gabriel Antoni

Photo: An agreement on oil prospecting and production was signed in Khartoum on October 21, 2003 at the Ministry of Energy and Mining for the Block 2 which extends from the Bahr al-Jabal State [southern Sudan] to the borders of the Central African Republic and Chad. Photo shows Eronat's Geneva based financial manager, Jean-Gabriel Antoni, in his grey suit (on the left, almost trying to get out of the picture) signing the Darfur oil deal with Sudan's energy minister Dr Awad Ahmad al-Jaz. Read more in Sudan Watch archive June 17 2005: Chinese sign up with Eronat's Cliveden and Canada's Encana to explore oil in Chad

Jun 9 2005 Friedhelm Eronat is behind Cliveden Sudan and Darfur oil deal

Jun 10 2005 Friedhelm Eronat and Cliveden Sudan named as buyer of Darfur oil rights

Jul 27 2005 Friedhelm Eronat's oil deals in Darfur, Sudan - Secret World of the Chelsea Oil Tycoon

Muslims in Darfur need protection, not jihad - GIF

Statements by Osama bin Laden demonstrate 'deep lack of concern' for Darfuris says the Genocide Intervention Network today.

GIF condemns the statements of Osama bin Laden suggesting that peacekeepers in Darfur, Sudan, are perpetrating atrocities against Muslims.

The international community, Arab nations must not be deterred by terrorist threats, but rather recognize their responsibility to protect civilians in Darfur.

[Well said] Full story GIF 25 Apr 2006.

Sudanese refugees burn effigy of their President Bashir

Sudanese refugees burn effigy of Sudanese President

Two photos of Sudanese residents living in the Chadian capital N'djamena burning an effigy representing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Friday, April 21, 2006 during a protest condemning the situation in Darfur.

Sudanese burn effigy of Sudan President

UN food programme expressed concern the unrest would further complicate the already difficult task of helping the more than 200,000 refugees from neighbouring Sudan who have fled to Chad. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, pictured here in March 2006, is strongly opposed to the UN mission in Darfur, Sudan. (AFP/File/Awad Awad)

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour begins a one-week visit to Sudan on Saturday. In addition to Khartoum, the capital, and Darfur she is scheduled to go to Juba in South Sudan where a peace agreement in January 2005 ended two decades of war between Government and rebel forces. - UN News Apr 25, 2006.

Nick and George Clooney urge Darfur aid

Journalist Nick Clooney says he hopes a recent trip to Sudan and Chad with his son, Hollywood movie star George Clooney, will help boost humanitarian aid for two million refugees.

They both plan to attend a rally organised by the Save Darfur Coalition next Sunday in Washington. - UPI April 24 2006.

See Apr 27 2006 - Sudanese Embassy says the 'Stop Genocide' rallies April 30 tells Darfur rebels: "Don't Make Peace. The US supports you" - Hollywood actor George Clooney will speak at the Save Darfur Rally to Stop Genocide in Washington, D.C. A video of his recent trip to southern Sudan and eastern Chad is available at:

UPDATE: Apr 28 2006 The Cincinnati Post: 'You must help us,' victims cry by Nick Clooney - you can write to him at The Cincinnati Post, 125 E. Court St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. [via PoTP with thanks]

Job: Administrative Coordinator, Sudan, International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee seeks an Administrative Coordinator for its Sudan program, based in Khartoum. To apply submit resume and salary requirements on the website. [via Eldis]

Job: ACTED seeks Logistics Coordinator, Sudan

More details at: [via Eldis]

New film project: Darfur Diaries - Message from Home

Click here to launch a clip of the film Darfur Diaries: Message from Home and see the drawings and testimony of a ten year old Darfuri boy whose father and brothers were killed in Darfur.

[via Coalition for Darfur Synopsis of the new film project]

Sudan: Child soldiers return to their families in the south

At least 300 child soldiers in southern Sudan handed in their guns and uniforms on Monday and will return to their families as part of an ongoing demobilisation exercise supported by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the agency said. Full report IRIN 24 Apr 2006.


Photo: Child soldiers in southern Sudan (IRIN)

AU to give warring parties draft Darfur Peace Agreement

Today, the African Union will present the warring parties from Darfur with a draft peace agreement, AFP/antara reported Apr 25 - excerpt:

The document will be given to delegates at the talks in Abuja just as the UN Security Council is expected to hear a US proposal for targeted sanctions against four individuals driving the conflict.

"Today at 6:00 pm the chief mediator, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, will convene a plenary to officially table a comprehensive peace agreement comprising protocols on power-sharing, wealth-sharing and security arrangements," AU spokesman Noureddine Mezni told AFP.

The Khartoum delegation told AFP it had submitted its position on a proposed security agreement.

"We have submitted our position to the AU today ... and that will constitute a basis for agreement, with some amendments," Khartoum government chief negotiator Majzoub al-Khalifa told AFP late Monday.

Darfuris flee bombing of Joghana village by Sudan gov't aircraft and attacks by Janjaweed fighting SLA

Last night's news on BBC1 TV here in England showed a short news report on Darfur. The reporter (a woman, I didn't catch her name) featured in the film talked of the Sudanese government and Janjaweed attacking, bombing and burning a village called Joghana. The fight was between Sudanese government forces and militiamen against Darfur rebel group SLA. Something to do with fighting for position. (See other report here below). The film showed civilians - men, women and children, walking in the dust or sitting on donkeys. Some were interviewed. African Union soldiers were shown at the roadside beside a water truck, giving drinking water to those fleeing. The film showed a government bomber plane in sky. The reporter said the attack happened yesterday morning, 7am but did not state actual date. I've not found any reports on this story, apart from the following excerpt from a BBC news report today, 25 April, 2006:
In Darfur itself, a BBC correspondent has found evidence of continuing attacks on civilians by militias.

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Darfur met streams of civilians, who said they were fleeing their remote village of Jogana [Joghana].

They said they had been attacked by government aircraft and militiamen, who were fighting rebel forces in the area.

Our correspondent said she could the sound of bombing from 40km away.

African Union peacekeepers met the civilians and gave them water but did not intervene in the fighting.


Photo: The civilians described attacks by government aircraft and militiamen (BBC)

SLA's President Minni Minnawi threatens to suspend Darfur peace talks

On April 22, 2006 Darfur rebel SLA group leader Minni Minnawi, threatened to suspend Darfur peace talks by the end of this month if the government did not retreat from its hard-line position Sudan Tribune reported April 23 - excerpt:
In a press statement signed by Menni Arkoi Menawi, the SLM said the government was responsible for the failure of the peace talks because of its persistence in rejecting the representation of the Darfur people by a vice-president of the Republic during the transitional phase and the return of Darfur to one state with its original borders of 1956 and not compromising in all other areas of negotiation.
Darfur rebels SLA

Photo: Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) fighters on patrol near Gereida, South Darfur in Western Sudan. (Derk Segaar/IRIN) Sudan Watch archive 2 Mar 2006.
On April 22, SLM leader Menni Minawi (pictured below) handed a strongly-worded statement to the AU and partners in Abuja. The 13-point statement accused the government of violating the ceasefire following the visit of deputy ruling National Congress party leader Nafei Ali Nafei to the Darfur states and of evasiveness in order to waste time.
Meni Minawi Arkowri
The statement said the SLM had already paid its dues towards peace and that its leader had ordered all the SLM forces to be on high alert and await directives at any moment to implement orders.

The statement further called on the government to withdraw its forces from the areas it seized in Al-Tinah, Bassawa, Kernwi, Ambro, Anabaji, Al-Dor, Abdelshakoor, Ain saro in North Darfur State. It also demands the withdrawal of the Sudanese army from areas seized during the fourth round of peace talks like: Ashma, Al-Layat, Jar-AlNabi, Al-Tiwasha, Abu Karninka, and Mahalia.
SLA soldier

Photo: A soldier from the SLA stands guard against crowds who gathered to witness the rebel SLA unity conference in Haskanita, in Sudan's eastern Darfur province October 29, 2005. (Reuters). Sudan Watch archive 11 March 2006.

China wants "nothing until Abuja talks" are completed

UN draft resolution names four men who would face sanctions:

- Gaffar Mohamed Elhassan, former commander of the Sudanese air force's western region. Council diplomats said he had direct operational command of Sudan's army in Darfur from 2004-2006 and coordinated operations between government forces and the Janjaweed which resulted in scores of attacks on non-Arab villages. He was also a supplier and conduit for weapons getting into Darfur, the diplomats said.

Musa Hilal

- Sheikh Musa Hilal (pictured above) chief of the Jalul tribe in North Darfur. He is a Janjaweed leader and some of the worst atrocities, including rape, robbery and the burning of villages, occurred under his command, with government assistance. His record dates back to 1997 when he was jailed for killing 17 people in Darfur, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

- Adam Yacub Shant, a commander in the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA). Diplomats said he violated the ceasefire in July 2005 by ordering SLA soldiers to attack government forces in Darfur. The attack killed three government soldiers.

- Gabril Abdul Kareem Badri, a rebel commander in the National Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD). Diplomats said he kidnapped members of the African Union peacekeepingmission in Darfur in October 2005 and threatened to shoot down AU helicopters in November 2005.

Full report by Edith M Lederer Associated Press Apr 25, 2006 via Aljazeera.

Note, the report says that when asked whether they would veto the resolution or abstain, Konstantin Dolgov, Russia's deputy UN ambassador, and Wang Guangya, China's UN ambassador, said they had not yet received instructions.
"We think that we should not take any steps which could have a negative bearing on the Abuja peace talks," Dolgov said. "But at the same time, decisions that have been previously taken by the council, they are to be implemented. It's a matter of how and when."

Wang said China wants "nothing until Abuja talks" are completed.