Contrived and Disingenuous Optimism by African Union and UN Officials
July 28, 2011 (SSNA) — Part 2: The section comprises a lengthy collection of dispatches from Radio Dabanga, giving a true sense of the lives led by Darfuris, including continual attacks on rural populations as well the millions displaced internally and as refugees in eastern Chad. The collection proceeds roughly backwards in chronological order, although there is some grouping by subject matter (occasionally other news sources are cited to give further context to what Radio Dabanga has reported). It is quite long, but I cannot apologize for including so much, even as it is only a portion of what has been reported by Radio Dabanga. Virtually none of these accounts have been assessed by UNAMID.
And yet these accounts give us our best sense of the lives Darfuris actually live, not those statistically contrived misrepresentations proffered by the UN and found sufficient by those content to see Darfur"de-coupled" from larger concerns in Sudan. They tell of lives filled with violence, including brutal sexual violence, cruel deprivation, constant fear, and a powerful sense of loss—of family members and friends who have perished, of their villages and lands, and ultimately their way of life. They feel, understandably, that the world has forgotten them and simply doesn’t care enough about their suffering to end it—or even to mitigate it through meaningful pressure on the Khartoum regime.
• In the same Radio Dabanga dispatch: Complaining farmers from Guido Camp (near Garsila, West-Darfur) pointed out the deliberate destruction of their farms by shepherds. According to them, the shepherds intentionally set out their cows in the farms, setting chaos and destructing their properties. Protesters are immediately beaten up, and women are raped, making them reluctant to return to their fields. Several female farmers reported the incidents to the local authorities, but no action was apparently taken. They now call on UNAMID and the United Nations to provide them with the necessary protection. ("Guido Region: reports of farmer attacks, rapes and failed repatriations," Radio Dabanga, July 26, 2011)
"This is unacceptable, and his arrest and charging violates the Sudanese government’s agreement with the UN over the treatment of UN workers accused of committing a criminal offence."
Similarly, last Thursday, the Sudanese Air Force carried out massive bombings in the AbuHamara Linda and Mnoashy. Today, eyewitnesses told Radio Dabanga the following. During this raid, citizen Howa Mohammed got severely injured, after which she was evacuated to Nyala hospital for treatment. Nine year old Osman Abakar disappeared during the bombings, and is still missing. Many farmers have not dared to return to their farms yet, as they fear the bombings will resume.
• Meanwhile in Zalingei, West Darfur, four armed men abducted one of the young girls from Andru village which lies ten kilometers from Zalingei on Saturday and raped her repeatedly and then released her on Sunday. A donkey cart and a donkey was also robbed from the displaced person Kaltouma Ahmed Mohammed by three gunmen as she was on her way from the agricultural fields to Hamidiya camp in Zalingei. Osman Omar Hassan was also shot near block five in Hassahissa camp and a witness said that all these events took place on Saturday.
A group of villagers who managed to trap the looters was arrested by theSudanese army and militiamen after recovering two hundred of the stolenlivestock and were on their way back to Laminah and Terling villages."Nineteen members of the group were arrested and taken to Um Kaja villagein Eastern Shangil Tobaya, roughly 2 kilometres away," reported theAfrican Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS).
• Also in Zalingei, an armed militia which is thought to be affiliated with the government attacked Hassa Hissa camp for displaced people on Tuesday, killing the displaced person Mohammed Abakr and wounding five others. The coordinator of camps said that the gunmen came in seven cars but walked into the camps, where they were targeting the sheikh of the camps, Haroun Adam, and his secretary Zakaria Abu Kuay. The camps’ coordinator told Radio Dabanga that the displaced people repelled the attack using sticks, which led to the killing of Abakr and wounding of five other displaced people.
The coordinator claimed that the UNAMID envoy witnessed a shooting incident at the camp. IDPs in Zalingei last week informed the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) that they plan to go out for peaceful protests in the People’s Square in the center of Zalingei to demand the downfall of the regime and a stop to the continuous killing which is happening in Darfur. The coordinator of camps told Radio Dabanga that the displaced people will send a memo to the UN Security Council regarding the necessity of bringing an end to the violations in Darfur and for the imposition of a no-fly zone and prohibition of weapon importations to Darfur. He also revealed that they have set a date for the protests after the completion of distribution of food rations in Al Salam Camp and Khamsa Dagaig Camp.
• In another blow to the camp population, state authorities ordered a halt to the movement of transport buses between Kalma camp and Nyala town. The order came on Tuesday morning, according to a camp elder who voiced surprise at the stance of the government. He said the cancellation of the transport services would cut into earnings of the displaced people who go to Nyala to earn a living. Radio Dabanga tried to contact the government authorities for comments but could not
He also stated that the appearance of the diarrhea coincided with the water crisis in the camp and that the disease infected children aged between two months to five years old. The United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) had announced in a media statement last week the spread of measles and meningitis in Otash camp and had described the situation in the camp as a "serious humanitarian crisis." Otash IDP Camp was exempted from the order last week that forbid aid workers from leaving Nyala.
Witnesses to the incidents stated that the moment the registrar arrived, the Antonov plane bombed the car, which led to the immediate death of a child, a young boy and the wounding of the driver. All three were civilians. The car and surroundings caught fire as a result of the bombing and lead to the death of cattle that were around. Civilians rushed to the place of the incident to put out the fires and upon their return to their houses, the Antonov plane returned and bombed the area leading to the immediate death of 10people and the wounding of 8 others. A second incident happened in the area of Labado, South Darfur, where also an Antonov plane bombed two carts two kilometers away from the other air-strikes. The incident led to the death of one civilian: Faduli Abakr who was twenty-four years old
The announcement comes two days after Sudanese armed forces launched air strikes against the South Darfur town of Labado and the village of Esheraya. UNAMID had planned to send a verification team to Labado and Esheraya to assess the impact on the ground, but Government forces did not allow access today, citing security concerns because of armed rebel movements operating in the area. Aid workers also face restrictions at the Kalma camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), home to tens of thousands of people, even though it is located close to Nyala. But the Otash camp for IDPs is not affected by the new restrictions, UNAMID reported.
The source said that the two sides had a fight over the ownership of the land which prompted the armed group to open fire on the people of Bigo.
Eric Reeves has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for more than a decade. He is author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide.