April 6th 2008 - Darfur Briefing
On 4 April the UNHCR estimated that 2.5 million displaced Darfurians, as well as 47,500 inter ethnic refugees in Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) need over $40.3 million for protection measures in the disrupted, war-torn region. A UNHCR spokesman said: "The challenges in Darfur have never been greater, with a pervasive conflict spreading across the region displacing more civilians and creating a very insecure environment for humanitarian workers."
On 4 April he Czech Republic issued donations of 5 million crowns (0.3 million USD) to the UNHCR helping to protect refugees in Darfur.
On 1 April Sudanese planes continued bombing rebel areas allegedly occupied by SLA-Unity factions. Despite the UN Security Council’s ban on aerial bombardment in Darfur, the Sudanese army continued its bombing campaigns of five villages in North Darfur, killing one child and injuring another.
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) spokesperson, Ahmed Hussein Adam, condemned the government bombings in North Darfur, calling them indiscriminant and urged the UN-AU peacekeeping force to probe the Sudanese Government in their responsibility for this attack.
On 5 April UNAMID experts held a two day closed-door meeting in northern Darfur to discuss progressive strategies for UNAMID’s field performance. This included UNAMID’s mandate, support and role in the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA).
Peace and Security experts emphasised that the mission’s success was highly dependent on trust between the combatants and the peacekeeping forces and stability in the region. However, it was acknowledged that the security situation has continued to deteriorate, which has not been conducive for “positive talks and sustainable reconciliation”.
On 31 March Human Rights Watch released a statement saying, “South Africa should use its Security council presidency in April 2008 to make significant progress on human rights crises in Darfur…”
Executive director of HRW, Kenneth Roth, has adamantly stated that he believes South Africa should be more active in pushing Sudan to allow “unhindered” deployment of both African and non-African peacekeepers to Darfur.
The UN-AU Joint Peacekeeping Force
On April 1 The US special envoy to Sudan, Ambassador Richard Williamson, spoke with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, urging him to deploy additional ground troops in Darfur to increase security in the region.
In a letter to the UN, the US urged that 3,600 new peacekeepers should be deployed in Darfur by June 2008. Williamson conveyed: “At this crucial moment, the deployment of new troops as quickly as possible is out best hope to change the course of this tragedy.”
While Bush has publicly denounced US troops going to Darfur, the US is urging the quick deployment of Egyptian, Ethiopian and Rwandan troops into the region, especially as Ethiopians and Rwandans are already involved in the US sponsored African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance Program (ACOTA).
Only 9,000 of the expected 26,000 UNAMID troops have been deployed so far in the region. The sparse troop numbers and inadequately equipped peacekeeping force is to be a main focus for campaigning and lobbying of the Global Day for Darfur on Sunday 13 April.
Human Rights Situation
On March 31 many esteemed dignitaries of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, including former chief prosecutors Carla del Ponte and Richard Goldstone and former UK and Canadian justice ministers, have signed a letter to the Security Council calling upon it to demand Khartoum hand over ICC suspects and for the Council to freeze personal assets for Ahmed Haroun and Ali Koshieb.
Part the letter reads that “the government of Sudan has no serious intention to investigate past or ongoing crimes in Darfur.” This has been made clear by the GoS’ defiance of the arrest warrants through promoting the alleged war criminals to higher ranking government positions.
On 1 April, following the ICC’s arrest warrants for Ahmed Haroun and Ali Koshieb - also referred to as the “Butcher of Darfur” - the GoS freed Ali Koshieb, the militia leader suspected of war crimes, due to a lack of evidence.
A spokesperson for the Sudanese Embassy in London, Khalid Al-Mubarak, stated that Haroun and Kosheib have not been and will not be prosecuted “because there is no evidence against them”.
Statements in 2007 by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo declared: “I have eyewitnesses who saw Kushayb involved in the execution or prisoners, the rape of women”.
Various US based Darfur advocacy groups, including Save Darfur Coalition, Genocide Intervention Network, STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, and Dream for Darfur, are targeting world leaders as well as corporate sponsors of the Beijing Olympic Games to take a stand against China’s complicity in the unrelenting genocidal violence in Darfur.
“Beijing should not be allowed to bask in the warm glow of peace and brotherhood associated with the opening games if China is still underwriting atrocities in Darfur and still has not done what is should to bring peace and security to Sudan”.
Some Darfur advocacy groups are calling upon world leaders to abstain from attending the 2008 Olympic ceremonies until Sudan yields to the agreed UN-AU peacekeeping force in Sudan. French President Nicholas Sarkozy has publicly suggested that he will personally boycott the Beijing Olympics.