On a quarterly basis, Jewish World Watch provides an update on the status of the genocide in Darfur.
Sudan Quarterly Update – Archives
SUDAN QUARTERLY UPDATE
June 16, 2011
South Sudan Independence July 9, 2011
As expected, fighting has occurred in the contested oil-rich border regions. A separate referendum had been scheduled in January for the people of Abyei to choose to join the north or the south, but the referendum was canceled when the two sides could not agree on voter eligibility. Violence began soon after, resulting in at least 800 deaths and over 100,000 displaced people. In May, Khartoum took control of Abyei, which has long been claimed by both the north and the south. Recent negotiations have been held in Addis Ababa with the goals of demilitarizing Abyei and allowing in Ethiopian peacekeepers. Even as it was reported on June 13 that both sides had agreed in principle to those goals, fighting has continued between northern and southern armies.
In addition, military action by Khartoum against armed groups has resulted in at least 64 deaths in Southern Kordofan over the last ten days. Although this state is actually in the north, many fighters aligned themselves with the south and fought against Khartoum during the civil war. According to the UN, air strikes by the northern military have resulted in not only the 64 casualties, but displacement of an estimated additional 60,000 civilians. The UN has also received reports of violence among ethnic groups and looting of property, which prevent the displaced from returning home and create additional need for humanitarian aid.
On June 15, U.S. President Barack Obama called on Khartoum to stop the air strikes and on the governments of both northern and southern Sudan to put an end to the fighting in Abyei and Southern Kordofan, as well as allow humanitarian aid access. He called on the leaders of both governments to “fulfill [their] obligations and choose peace” in order for the U.S. to take steps on its roadmap toward normalization of relations with Khartoum. He stated that the leaders would be held accountable for their actions should hostilities continue, but did not provide specifics. As in the past, military in the north and the south each accuse the other of starting the fighting.
Sudan Now and its constituent anti-genocide and human rights organizations have called on the U.S. and international governments to treat the violence between the north and south as the beginning of undeclared war and to act accordingly. Group members have labeled the response of the international community so far as rhetorical. They call on President Obama and the U.S. to take direct action and have the following recommendations (in an excerpt from Sudan Now’s press release dated June 15, 2011):
North against south is not the only violence in the region. In 9 of 10 states in southern Sudan, armed militias have been fighting each other and the southern army, resulting in 1500 deaths since the January referendum, according to the UN. There is concern that even if there is peace between the north and south, the new country of South Sudan will fail due to internal conflict,
The impending independence of South Sudan is expected to have a significant financial impact on the north. Khartoum’s finance minister has recently reported that the north will lose nearly 37% of its revenues, as the south has provided approximately 73% of the oil revenue. Although government spending will drop somewhat as a result of the secession removing some funding needs, that drop is expected to be much less than 37%. The finance minister stated that Khartoum is working on a three year economic program to increase income and cut state spending, although he did not provide specific details. Even though secession is just a few weeks away, the north and south have yet to work out details of the oil production. The south will hold the bulk of the oil reserves, but will have to pay for the use of the pipeline and refineries in the north, and both sides have yet to agree on the amount of payment. The exact border between the north and the south also has yet to be settled. Interestingly, although the Abyei border region has long been violently disputed, it holds just 1% of Sudan’s oil reserves, according to the finance minister.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report titled “Darfur in the Shadows” on June 5. HRW reports that renewed violence since December, 2010 has resulted in significant civilian casualties and about 70,000 newly displaced people. Similar to past years, civilians are caught between government attacks, including air strikes, on communities associated with rebels and rebel attacks on communities thought to support the government. Because the government has limited access to Darfur by peacekeepers and aid workers, the full toll is not verified. HRW also reports that Darfuri protestors and peace activists have been arrested, detained, and tortured in violation not only of international law but Sudan’s own National Security Act of 2010. Only in the past week have authorities lifted restrictions on movement of aid workers in South Darfur.
In an interview in April with the U.K. newspaper the Guardian, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir stated that as president, he is personally responsible for the conflict in Darfur. However, he further stated that his government was battling only armed militias, that civilian casualties were the result only of insurgents attacking certain tribes, and that the government “did not fight the people of Darfur.” Clearly, al-Bashir’s views are not shared by the international community. Al-Bashir also accused the International Criminal Court (ICC) of having a double standard, saying that humanitarian crimes in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan were not being prosecuted by the ICC. Further, al-Bashir accused Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC’s chief prosecutor of having a personal, politically-based vendetta against him.
Moreno-Ocampo addressed the UN Security Council on June 8, telling its members that al-Bashir continues to carry out genocide in Darfur, because he has learned how to continue committing crimes in defiance of the UN. Both Chad and Kenya declined to arrest al-Bashir when he visited in 2010, even though both those countries recognize the ICC. Later this month, al-Bashir will visit China, a strong ally of Sudan. Although China is a member of the UN Security Council, it has never recognized the ICC, and thus has no obligation to uphold the ICC’s arrest warrants on al-Bashir. In fact, China has stated that action against al-Bashir will lead to greater instability in Sudan. Sudan now ranks third in Africa in amount of trade with China.
More than 500 delegates met in Doha, Qatar during the last week of May in what was called the All Darfur Stakeholders Conference. In April, the UN/African Union joint mediator presented a draft peace agreement to Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party and to two main rebel groups LJM and JEM. According to JEM, this document was intended to be a foundation for continued sustainable peace negotiations. It was presented, however, at the Stakeholders Conference as a framework document, giving the impression that all parties had approved it. In fact, although LJM and the NCP both appear to be in favor of signing the document as a “peace agreement”, JEM has not agreed and now appears likely to be left out of the process. The government plans a domestic “Darfur-based Political Process” which is supposed to allow representatives of Darfuri civil society to promote the peace agreement resulting from the DOHA talks. JEM criticizes the draft document as not reflecting the will of the Darfuri people, and it accuses the NCP as falsely claiming that peace in Darfur can be achieved internally without active participation by the international community. Without a true peace agreement accepted by all parties, it is difficult to understand how a domestic peace process can succeed. Nevertheless, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on June 4 praising the outcome of the conference and calling on all parties to “end hostilities without delay, sign a ceasefire, and make the compromises necessary to reach a sustainable peace.”