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Rape as a Continuing Weapon of War in Darfur: Reports, bibliography of studies, a compendium of incidents

Attention to sexual violence and rape in Darfur has ceased to command the attention it once had---not because this brutal epidemic has ended but because of the absence of human rights reporting, news reporting, and the intimidation of humanitarian organizations ensures that we hear very little about one of the most brutal features of the Darfur genocide.  This brief provides [1] a select bibliography of reports and studies examining the realities of rape and sexual violence in Darfur (in progress); [2] an overview of what was already evident of these realities from mid-2005; [3] a lengthy compendium of reports of specific incidents of sexual violence and rape.  This compendium is also a work in progress, extending back into report archives, and grimly forward as rape continues to be reported on a nearly daily basis by Radio Dabanga, despite various assertions that Darfur is settling into a more "peaceful" state. 

There can be no possible claim to definitive figures; but the evidence assembled here makes clear than many tens of thousands of Darfuri girls and women have been raped.

By Eric Reeves

Part I: ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY (in progress)

(i) Amnesty International, "Sudan, Darfur: Rape as a Weapon of War" [July 19, 2004] at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR54/076/2004 ] One of the very earliest human rights accounts of what had already reached epidemic proportions.  This lengthy report by Amnesty is authoritative, based on very substantial field research, and compelling in its analysis and framing of issues in terms of international humanitarian and human rights law.  It has never been the case that the international community was unaware of the scale of sexual violence and rape in Darfur; such awareness simply did not translate into meaningful responses.

(ii)  Tara Gingerich, JD, MA and Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH, "The Use of Rape as a Weapon of War in the conflict in Darfur, Sudan" (October 2004). Prepared for the US Agency for International Development/OTI under the auspices of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights. A powerful study of sexual violence in Darfur published in fall 2004, it deserves the closest attention.

(iii) Human Rights Watch, "Sexual violence and its consequences among displaced persons in Darfur and Chad," (April 2005)

[from the Introduction]  "Since early 2003, Sudanese government forces and government-backed ethnic militias known as 'Janjaweed' have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and 'ethnic cleansing' in the Darfur region of Sudan. They have targeted for abuse civilians belonging to the same ethnic groups as members of two rebel movements, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)."

"Rape and sexual violence against women and girls has been a prominent feature of the 'ethnic cleansing' campaign carried out by government forces and militias, both during and following displacement in Darfur. Once displaced into camps in Darfur, or into refugee camps in Chad, women and girls continue to suffer sexual and gender-based violence. As discussed below, rape and sexual violence have numerous social, economic and medical consequences, including increasing the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS as a result of the violence."

(iv)  Doctors Without Border/Médecins San Frontières (MSF)/Holland in March 2005("The Crushing Burden of Rape: Sexual Violence in Darfur," MSF-Holland, March 2005, http://www.nsvrc.org/publications/reports/crushing-burden-rape-sexual-violence-darfur). In the wake of the report's release, Khartoum arrested and eventually expelled the two most senior MSF-Holland officials working in Sudan.  The MSF report, with an extraordinary body of first-hand evidence, documents more than 500 cases of rape; this report figured in Khartoum's decision to expel the organization, along with twelve others, in March 2009.

(v)  "Genocidal Rape and Assault in Darfur" (Dirksen Senate Office Building & Rayburn House Office Building, July 21, 2005)   Sponsored by members of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus & the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues. Testimony of Eric Reeves, Smith College: "Responding to Sexual Violence in Darfur."

(vi) Human Rights Watch, "Five Years On: No Justice for Victims of Sexual Violence in Darfur," (April 2008)  [from the Introduction]  "Five years into the armed conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, women and girls living in displaced persons camps, towns, and rural areas remain extremely vulnerable to sexual violence. Sexual violence continues to occur throughout the region, both in the context of continuing attacks on civilians, and during periods of relative calm.  Those responsible are usually men from the Sudanese security forces, militias, rebel groups, and former rebel groups, who target women and girls predominantly (but not exclusively) from Fur, Zaghawa, Masalit, Berti, Tunjur, and other non-Arab ethnicities."

(vii) Physicians for Human Rights, May 2009.  The psychological, physical, and social destructiveness of rape as a weapon of war can scarcely be overstated. As deployed in Darfur, it is meant to destroy family structures within the non-Arab or African populations that have, overwhelmingly, been the target of campaigns of rape. The best account of the physical and mental devastation occasioned by rape in Darfur is a May 2009 study by Physicians for Human Rights, "Nowhere to Turn: Failure to Protect, Support and Assure Justice for Darfuri Women" (http://darfuriwomen.phrblog.org/nowhere-to-turn/ ). The effects of eight years of displacement by genocidal counter-insurgency warfare have left civilians suffering from a wide range of severe mental disorders, particularly girls and women who have been victims of rape. In its meticulously researched study, PHR chronicled in soul-destroying detail some of the devastation among Darfuri refugee girls and women in eastern Chad:

"Researchers asked women to rate their physical and mental health status in Darfur and now in Chad on a 1-5 scale with 1 being 'very good' and 5 being 'poor.' Women reported a marked deterioration in their physical health status since leaving Darfur, with an average ranking of 3.99 for health in Chad versus 2.06 for Darfur."

Even more alarmingly,

"The study indicated a marked deterioration in self-reported mental health, where the average score in was 4.90. 'I am sad every day (since leaving Darfur). I feel not well in my skin,' explained one respondent. [ ] Women who experienced rape (confirmed or highly probable) were three times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than were women who did not report sexual violence."

(viii) Halima Bashir, Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur (Random House, 2009); Bashir, a Zaghawa woman trained as a doctor, was herself savagely raped and tortured because of her courageous medical response to the mass rape of school girls in North Darfur.  This searing account takes the reader to the very heart of darkness in Darfur.

[Part II]  RAPE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE: THE VIEW FROM JUNE 2005

Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, June 5, 2005: "In Darfur, rape is systematically used as a weapon of warfare."

Eric Reeves
June 22, 2005

Egeland's recourse to the present tense in describing the use of rape as an ongoing weapon of war in Darfur is entirely appropriate. The Janjaweed militia forces allied with the Khartoum regime are continuing a brutal campaign of systematic sexual violence directed against the women and girls of non-Arab or African tribal groups. Khartoum for its part remains deeply complicit in this campaign, now in its third year, as Egeland makes clear in his characteristically forthright statement:

"[Egeland said] the impact of [sexual] violence was compounded by [the government of] Sudan's failure to acknowledge the scale of the problem and to act to stop it. 'Not only do the Sudanese authorities fail to provide effective physical protection, they inhibit access to treatment.' He said in some cases unmarried women who became pregnant after being raped had been treated as criminals and subjected to further brutal treatment by police. 'This is an affront to all humanity,' Egeland said." (Reuters, June 21, 2005)

The consequences of systematic, racially/ethnically-animated sexual violence in Darfur are enormous. Rape as a weapon of war is one the defining features of the insecurity defining most of Darfur; sexual violence increasingly paralyzes civilian movement and powerfully circumscribes the grim lives within overcrowded and under-served camps for displaced persons. More broadly, insecurity continues to attenuate humanitarian reach and efficacy.

The threat of rape severely inhibits the gathering of firewood, water, and animal fodder. The collapse in Darfur's food production is also directly related to the ongoing intimidating effects of sexual violence. More generally, rape---and the impunity with which it is committed by Khartoum's proxy military force in Darfur---contributes to a desperate decline in morale within many camps and among displaced persons, some now entering their third year in this debilitating condition.

A powerful study of sexual violence in Darfur was published last fall and deserves the closest attention. Written by Tara Gingerich, JD, MA and Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH, "The Use of Rape as a Weapon of War in the conflict in Darfur, Sudan" (October 2004) was prepared for the US Agency for International Development/OTI under the auspices of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights.  Virtually all of the conclusions and assessments made in this detailed and historically informed study continue to be borne out by realities on the ground more than half a year later. [And indeed, continue to be borne out to the very present: see below---ER, March 4, 2012]

Certainly the central claim of the report stands without meaningful challenge:

"Our findings suggest that the military forces attacking the non-Arab people of Darfur, the Janjaweed in collaboration with forces of the Government of Sudan, have inflicted a massive campaign of rape as a deliberate aspect of their military assault against the lives, livelihoods, and land of this population." (page 1)

Equally certainly,

"The highest priority now is to introduce a measure of real protection for the populations now displaced in Darfur and Chad in order to reduce the ongoing risk of rape to women and girls as they move outside camps and villages to find firewood and water." (page 1)

But again, more than half a year later, such protection is nowhere in sight. Indeed, June 22, 2005 Congressional testimony by US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick works to ensure that current plans for an expanded but still wholly inadequate African Union (AU) deployment will constitute the full extent of international response to ongoing genocidal violence and destruction:

"The Bush administration is opposed to the dispatch of U.S. or European forces to help enhance security in Sudan's Darfur region because they could be vulnerable to attack by terrorists, [Zoellick] said Wednesday. 'The region is populated by some bloodthirsty, cold-hearted killers,' Zoellick said, mentioning Somalia in particular as one possible source." (Associated Press, June 22, 2005)

Leaving aside the disgracefully lazy geography invoked, Zoellick is apparently unaware of the grim irony in declaring that Western troops cannot be deployed to Darfur because of "bloodthirsty, cold-hearted killers" in Somalia (well over 1,000 miles away)---even as defenseless women and girls in Darfur are daily and directly vulnerable to the "bloodthirsty, cold-hearted killers" that are the Janjaweed.

Genocide is a brutal, ongoing reality in Darfur---an assessment recently confirmed in the abstract by President Bush---and yet the U.S. remains content with an "Africa only" response, despite the clear inadequacies of the AU, even with NATO logistical and material support. Zoellick offered nothing in his Congressional testimony that suggests how the deployment of even 7,700 AU personnel by September (a suspiciously optimistic time-frame) can address the multiple security tasks all too conspicuous in Darfur---including the protection of women and girls from sexual violence.

Though there can be no denying the significant physical risks associated with humanitarian military intervention by American, European, Australian, or Canadian troops, these risks are almost certainly less than those confronted in Iraq and Afghanistan, even as the basis for participation in such military action is morally and legally much less ambiguous: halting genocide, halting the deliberate destruction of the African ethnic groups in Darfur because of who they are, "as such." Here we should bear in mind two of the acts of genocide specified in Article 2 of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (to which the US, the countries of the European Union, and all current members of the UN Security Council are contracting parties):

[b] Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

[d] Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

Considerable international jurisprudential thought has been given to the particular meaning of these phrases, but both have a clear bearing on how we consider the implications of systematic, ethnically-targeted rape in Darfur. Rape causes extremely serious bodily harm, particularly the gang-rape so characteristic in Darfur, as does rape accompanied by non-sexual violence, also typical in Darfur. Rape causes excruciating mental trauma. For a variety of reasons, rape also serves as a means of preventing births on the part of women within the targeted African groups. Those girls and women raped are often socially ostracized, and become much less valued as potential wives; violent rape often leads to medical complications that make further child-bearing impossible or much riskier; and rape often carries the threat of disease and infection, including direct threats to the lives of potential mothers.

Rape as committed by Khartoum's military proxy in Darfur is entirely consistent with the genocidal ambitions that have been in evidence for over two years, and contributes significantly to the current genocide by attrition that has succeeded the previous campaign of large-scale violent destruction of the lives and livelihoods of Darfur's African tribal groups. That sexual violence continues on a significant and consequential basis has been confirmed by UN reports (including the most recent [June 2005] by the Secretary-general), and by reports from human rights observers and humanitarian organizations on the ground in Darfur.

But for Zoellick and the Bush administration---and clearly with the support of the European Union and officials within NATO---there is no willingness to contribute U.S. or European personnel to this most urgent humanitarian intervention.

Genocide, including rape as a weapon of war in Darfur, will as a consequence proceed at a pace limited only by the drastically inadequate AU deployment, currently operating without a mandate for civilian or humanitarian protection. "Time must be given for an African solution to work," Zoellick declared in his Congressional testimony (Voice of America, June 22, 2005). But as Zoellick well knows, the AU has been shamefully reluctant to admit its own fundamental limitations, has failed to secure a mandate for civilian protection, and has deployed (in well over half a year) only about two thirds of the 3,500 personnel planned for early last fall. The AU has no capacity---either in material, manpower, or logistics (including "inter-operability")---to reach the 7,700 target figure for September, a date much too far in the future given critical current needs for protection. [ ]

NATURE AND CONSEQUENCES OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN DARFUR

So long as the international community fails to supplement the African Union in Darfur, and fails to provide a force in place with a mandate for civilian protection, an intolerable number of women and girls will be raped. This will compound the ongoing failure of the international community, in particular the UN Security Council failure to secure from Khartoum compliance with the only significant "demand" made to date: that the regime disarm the Janjaweed murderers and rapists, and bring their leaders to justice (UN Security Council Resolution 1556, July 30, 2004).

In a region the size of Spain, with over 2.5 million internally displaced persons and refugees (including eastern Chad), many hundreds of thousands of women and girls are daily at risk of the sort chronicled by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in its immensely powerful and clinically informed study: "The Crushing Burden of Rape: Sexual Violence in Darfur" (Amsterdam, March 8, 2005). Without international protection, girls as young as eight will continue to experience the most vicious form of sexual violence. MSF provides all too many horrific examples:

"'Five women, 2 young girls (13 and 14 years old) and 3 older women, went to collect grass for their donkeys. The group got ambushed by three armed men. 'I was taken to the near-by river bed away from the other women. One man took me in one direction. The other man took the other girl. [ ] The man who took me told me to sit on the ground. But I refused. He hit me twice on my back with a stick. Then he took out a knife and threatened me by pointing the knife at me. I sat down. And then he told me to take off my underwear. I refused, but he threatened me again with his knife. He pulled his trousers down and raped me. He left without saying anything or even looking at me.' (Young girl, 13, February 2005, South Darfur)"

"'One of the three man took me away from the other women. He threatened me with his knife by pinching my chest with it. He pushed me on the ground and took off my underwear. He raped me and was repeating "I will kill you" all the time to intimidate me.' (Young girl, 14, February 2005, South Darfur)"

A hateful racial/ethnic animus is all too often in evidence in these violent rapes:

"We saw five Arab men who came to us and asked where our husbands were. Then they told us that we should have sex with them. We said no. So they beat and raped us. After they abused us, they told us that now we would have Arab babies; and if they would find any Fur [one of the non-Arab or African tribal groups of Darfur], they would rape them again to change the colour of their children.' (Three women, 25, 30 and 40, October 2004, West Darfur)" (page 1)

Gingerich and Leaning also report on the racial/ethnic animus in the accounts of rape coming from non-Arab or African women, accounts that make clear the genocidal nature of these assaults:

"It is widely reported that during the attacks, the Janjaweed often berated the women, calling them slaves, telling them that they would now bear a 'free child,' and asserting that they (the perpetrators) are wiping out the non-Arabs." (page 15)

Gang-rape is, as MSF has established beyond doubt, a characteristic feature of sexual violence in Darfur:

"[A number of] women described that the rapists abducted them and held them captive for several days and during that period they were raped regularly by several men. One woman reported that her abduction lasted 6 days and she was raped by 10 men. In addition, almost half of the survivors report that there was more than one victim in the attack." (page 5)

Individual women offer counts of unsurpassable horror:

"'I was walking with a group of nine women and two men. We met some armed men along the road. They took the nine women and held us under a tree in their camp. They released us after three days. During all this time, I was raped every night and every day by five men.' (Woman, 30, October 2004, South Darfur) (Among the nine women, only three came to the clinic, among which two girls were 12 and 13 years old.)" (page 5)

This authoritative MSF report was the reason given by Khartoum for the recent arrest of the two most senior officials of MSF working in Sudan and Darfur. Aware of the clinical authority of MSF's report, and the international respect for the organization (which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999), the regime clearly fears the impact of reports of rape within the Muslim world. For while all too much of the Muslim world has shown a disgraceful willingness to countenance mass murder in Darfur in the name of "counter-insurgency," as promulgated by Khartoum, rape has proved to be much more difficult to justify as a tool of war.

But sexual violence has undeniably been an essential tool of war from the beginning of Khartoum's barbarous war on the people of Darfur and continues to be so today, as MSF insists in the report that to angered the regime:

"Since early 2003, the people of Darfur have endured a vicious campaign of violence, which has forced almost 2 million people to flee from their destroyed villages in search of safety. Rape against women, children, and men has sadly been a constant factor in this violence throughout this campaign of terror. More tragically, it continues to this day even long after people have fled from their villages. The stories of rape survivors give a horrific illustration of the daily reality of people in Darfur and especially of women and young girls, the primary victims of this form of violence. [The] first waves of people in flight repeatedly recounted to our teams how armed militias attacked their villages, killing and raping the inhabitants."

"The hundreds of thousands who fled the destroyed villages have now sought refuge in makeshift camps with little but rags and sticks as shelter. But they have found no safety there. In spite of high-profile visits of the world's leaders, people still face persecution and intimidation inside the camps. Rape, a feature of the attacks on their villages, has now followed them insidiously into their places of refuge. Families, in order to sustain themselves, have to continue collecting wood, fetching water or working their fields. In doing so, women have to make a terrible choice, putting themselves or their children at risk of rape, beatings or death as soon as they are outside the camps, towns or villages." (page 1)

MSF has quantified a number of their findings, and it was for uttering these terrible truths that Khartoum arrested the senior MSF officials in Sudan:

"The majority (82%) were raped while they were pursuing their ordinary daily activities. Only 4% of women reported that the rape occurred during the active conflict, while they were fleeing their home village. Almost a third (28%) of the victims reported that they were raped more than one time, either by single or multiple assailants. In more than half of the cases, physical violence was inflicted beyond sexual violence; women are beaten with sticks, whips or axes. Further, some of the raped women were visibly pregnant at the time of the assault, sometimes up to eight months." (page 3)

But MSF is far from alone in reporting on the realities of rape. There have long been numerous accounts from the UN as well as human rights organizations, both international and Sudanese expatriate. The scale and viciousness of rape, especially in the more violent phases of the Darfur conflict, are suggested by a UN dispatch following an attack in the Tawilah area of North Darfur (one in which the notorious Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal is clearly implicated):

"In an attack on 27 February [2004] in the Tawilah area of northern Darfur, 30 villages were burned to the ground, over 200 people killed and over 200 girls and women raped---some by up to 14 assailants and in front of their fathers who were later killed. A further 150 women and 200 children were abducted." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, March 22, 2004)

This was but one of countless such attacks.

We have no clear idea about the number of women and girls who have been raped in Darfur, in part because of the extraordinary reticence---for cultural and religious reasons---on the part of the women assaulted.

Amnesty International delegates in Chad in November 2003:

“Women will not tell you easily if they have been raped. In our culture, it is a shame. Women hide this in their hearts so that men don’t hear about it.”

But we may be sure that UN Under-secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Egeland is correct when he refers to the implications of the MSF study and its clinical recording of the experience of rape victims: "'This [MSF figure of 500 rape victims] is just a fraction of such attacks'" (Reuters, June 21, 2005).

Gingerich and Leaning report that,

"a Darfurian nongovernmental organization has documented 9,300 cases of rape [footnote 72: interview, October 12, 2004], although other observers on the ground have argued that the number of rapes is closer to double that figure" [footnote 73: Interviews, September 21, 2004]. (page 16)

Given the often determined silence of raped women and girls, and the extreme limitations in reporting range and access on the ground, such estimates clearly suggest the possibility that many tens of thousands of rapes have already occurred in Darfur.

It is in such a statistical context that we must understand the implications of Gingerich and Leaning's account of "the strategic use of rape," and its particular relevance for Darfur:

"Rape in the context of war serves to create fear, shame, and demoralization among many others in addition to the individual who has been directly assaulted. Communities threatened by mass rape in war may well be more likely to choose flight in advance of the enemy attack and may delay return to captured areas. Further, if a war aim is to take territory and resources and prevent the return of the target population, systematic rape can be seen as a potentially effective means to sap the capacity of groups and societies to reconstitute themselves and organize a sustained return."

"In extreme circumstances, mass rape has been used to further an agenda of cultural and ethnic destruction, by polluting blood lines and preying upon deeply-instilled prejudices about victims of rape to weaken marital and communal relations. The poisonous power of rape to drain capacity for explanation or re-organization of self and community makes it a uniquely effective tool for undermining the social order. When the war aims include the ethnic cleansing or annihilation of a particular identified group, systematic rape could arguably be deployed to manipulate norms of honor, chastity, virginity, femininity, masculinity, loyalty, marriage, and kinship, and insert an emanating set of experiences and memories that destroy group bonds through time."

"'Raped women become pregnant by the enemy, they may suffer grievous physical and psychological injuries, they may die, they may be abandoned or disavowed by shamed families and husbands, all of which degrade the ability of a culture to replenish itself through sexual reproduction' [footnote 29, Jonathan Gottschall, 'Explaining Wartime Rape']."

It is impossible to do full justice to either the data or accounts of rape as a weapon of war. The number of studies available is already considerable (for example, in addition to the reports by MSF and Gingerich and Leaning, see Amnesty International, "Sudan, Darfur: Rape as a Weapon of War" [July 19, 2004] at http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engafr540762004). What is clear from all extant accounts, surveys, and data is that rape has in fact been were widely and deliberately deployed as a weapon of war, indeed as a weapon in service of genocidal assault. The subsiding of large-scale conflict has not diminished the ongoing significance or extent of this weapon.

Here we must bear in mind the highly significant finding of MSF:

"The majority (82%) [of women and girls] were raped while they were pursuing their ordinary daily activities. Only 4% of women reported that the rape occurred during the active conflict, while they were fleeing their home village." (page 4)

As women have continued to be forced into camps for displaced persons, or trapped in besieged villages, this statistic is terrifying in its implications: there is no hiding or respite from rape. The UN (in Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 14; May 1, 2005) estimates that 1.88 million Darfuris are now internally displaced (the UN estimates another 200,000 are refugees in eastern Chad). This figure for human displacement represents only those persons to which the UN has access (mainly through UN World Food Program registration); it does not represent a huge and inaccessible rural population that is either displaced or acutely vulnerable in situ. In short, the extreme threat of rape continues for as many as 1.5 million women and girls. This has immense implications for the populations of Darfur, as Gingerich and Leaning make clear in their analysis of the "strategic use of rape as a weapon of war in Darfur":

"Aspects of the underlying strategic rationale for these rapes can be discerned as follows:

•"Create a sense of fear in the civilian population in order to restrict freedom of movement and economic activity. The consistency and implacability of the Janjaweed attack pattern has cast a massive shadow of fear across Darfur. Word of the rapes of the non-Arab population has spread to all those who have not yet been struck. This fear translates into a siege situation, whereby no one ventures outside the confines of the village unless it is absolutely necessary.” (page 17)

•"Instill flight to facilitate capture of land and killing of male civilians. The modus operandi of the Janjaweed and Government of Sudan military attacks on Darfurian villages has become known across the region. Defiance in the face of the onslaught simply leads to death. Over these months of war, the military aims of these forces have become easier to accomplish: they ride up to the horizon of a settlement and everyone before them tries to flee." (page 18)

•"Demoralize the population to reduce their will to resist and prolong their forced exit from the land. Mass rape in war ruptures community ties and disorganizes family structure, behavior, and expectations through time. In a culture that places such high value on virginity and chastity as Darfur, the burden inflicted by rape is particularly devastating and enduring." (page 18)

•"Tear apart the community, by breaking family and community bonds and by engaging in ethnic cleansing through 'pollution' of the blood line. A key motive of the Janjaweed use of rape as a weapon of war appears to be to destroy the non-Arab Darfurian society as a separate ethnic entity. Reports of rapes are replete with statements made by the Janjaweed perpetrators suggesting their intent to make a 'free baby' (implying that the non-Arabs are slaves) and to 'pollute' the tribal blood line, which is patrilineal in the Darfurian tribes." (page 18)

The strategic use of rape as a weapon of war is also evident in the numerous reports of women deliberately scarred or branded as part of sexual violence, this in order to make them more conspicuously victims of rape and thus less desirable as prospective wives or mothers. Even women who will under no circumstances speak of their brutal experience must nonetheless bear the cruelly and purposefully inflicted marks of that experience.

As we are counseled by the Bush administration "to give time for an African solution to work," the transparent inability of the AU---now or in any foreseeable future---to provide civilian protection ensures that rape will continue to be deployed as a strategic weapon of genocidal war.

And time is on the side of Khartoum's génocidaires and their brutal militia proxy, the Janjaweed. Although there are a number of reports that Khartoum's regular forces have also participated in the mayhem of sexual violence in Darfur (see Gingerich and Leaning, page 19), it is the Janjaweed---still unconstrained by Khartoum in any meaningful sense---that continue to rape on a massive, systematic basis. This is so despite the UN Security Council's futile "demand" that the regime disarm the Janjaweed and bring its leaders to justice.

Nor is there any prospect of justice for these girls and women. Violations of international law, including the use of rape as a weapon of war (see Gingerich and Leaning, pages 6-12), have nominally been referred by the UN Security Council to the International Criminal Court. But Khartoum continues to evince nothing but contempt for the ICC, insisting both that no Sudanese will be extradited to The Hague and that preposterous domestic show trials, hastily contrived by the "justice ministry," will have sole jurisdiction for all of Sudan.

THE BLUNTEST TRUTH

The NIF/NCP regime in Khartoum has no interest in seeking and sustaining a just peace for Sudan, or for any of the marginalized populations of this vast country, including those in the increasingly explosive east. The regime's génocidaires seek only political survival on the most favorable terms. They will make no peace with the people of Darfur that threatens them more than the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (January 9, 2005) with southern Sudan already does.

Those women seeking justice from this regime will seek in vain. And those in the international community who refuse to see this regime for what it is, who refuse to see that the regime seeks neither a just peace for the people of Darfur nor justice for the most aggrieved civilian survivors of ongoing genocide, are complicit in condemning the women and girls of Darfur to an indefinite future of the most heinous crimes of sexual violence.

[Part III]   A COMPENDIUM OF TERROR:

Authoritative reports of rapes from Radio Dabanga, human rights organizations, and other sources (identified where appropriate).  These accounts, while representative of the scale, range, continuity, and brutality of rape and sexual violence in Darfur, can do nothing to indicate total numbers.  Here we must be guided by generalizations from previous studies and field dispatches:

•As of fall 2004, Gingerich and Leaning report: "a Darfurian nongovernmental organization has documented 9,300 cases of rape [footnote 72: interview, October 12, 2004], although other observers on the ground have argued that the number of rapes is closer to double that figure [footnote 73: Interviews, September 21, 2004].” (page 16)

• Associated Press reported from Nyala (May 26, 2007): "UN workers say they registered 2,500 rapes in Darfur in 2006, but believe far more went unreported. The real figure is probably thousands a month, said a UN official. Like other UN personnel and aid workers interviewed, the official insisted on speaking anonymously for fear of being expelled by the government."

• UNICEF "Child Alert," page 19, December 2005:

"A recent report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that in almost one in three reported rapes [in Darfur], the victims were children, and a recent UNICEF/UN Population Fund study suggests that the number might be even higher."

•"Focus on Mornay camp," Médecins Sans Frontières, 20 June 2004 (Sudan: no relief in site): "Nearly 14% of the 132 victims of violence treated by medical teams from MSF over the last nine weeks were victims of sexual violence." [Altogether, more than 3 million people, more than half girls and women, have been displaced over the course of violent conflict in Darfur.]

Racist animus in sexual assaults:  It is imperative to bear in mind that rape and sexual violence have a strong racial/ethnic animus in Darfur.  Virtually all the reported attacks are of Arab men upon non-Arab or African women (in its 2004 study, Amnesty International found only one instance in which rebel forces from the Fur, Massalit, or Zaghawa non-Arab or African ethnic groups were responsible for rape).  This must not be lost sight of, as some have already done (for example, political scientist Alan Wolfe offers displays a painful ignorance in speaking on this issue: see Dissent Magazine (January 26, 2012).  The examples here from Amnesty International ("Sudan, Darfur: Rape as a Weapon of War," July 19, 2004) could be replicated from countless other reports and news accounts:

[1]  "Omar al Bashir told us that we should kill all the Nubas. There is no place here for the Negroes any more."  (Words of a Janjawid fighter, according to a refugee from Kenyu, interviewed by Amnesty International in Chad, May 2004)

[2]  "The Tama, a small ethnic group mainly composed of farmers, have been both victims of attacks and accused several times of siding with the Janjawid in the 2003-2004 conflict: 'Slaves! Nubas! Do you have a god? You, ugly black pretend... We are your god! Your god is Omer al-Bashir.'"

[3] "You blacks, you have spoilt the country! We are here to burn you...We will kill your husbands and sons and we will sleep with you! You will be our wives!"

(The words of members of the Janjawid as reported by a group of Masalit women in Goz Amer refugee camp, interviewed by Amnesty International in May 2004)

[4]  "M., a 50-year-old woman from Fur Baranga reported: 'The village was attacked during the night in October 2003, when the Arabs came by cars and on horses. They said "every black woman must be killed, even the children."'"

[5]  "Sudanese refugees interviewed by Amnesty International in Chad, who alleged that Salamat nomads from Chad and fighters from Mauritania were recruited to fight in Darfur:

'What we heard from the Janjawid is that Omer al-Bashir tells the foreigners that they are Arabs and that they should come and live in a country that is ruled by Arabs. That they should not stay where they are ruled by Africans. They say that "Sudan is a country for Arabs."'"  (M., Sudanese refugee in Chad, interviewed by Amnesty International in May 2004)"

[6]"'The government gave the Arabs confidence, arms, cars and horses.  We cannot go back; there will be no security for African people in Darfur.' (Sudanese woman interviewed by Amnesty International in Mile refugee camp, Chad, May 2004)"

[7]  "M., a Masalit chief of the village of Disa,reported that during attacks in June 2003 by the Janjawid and in July and August by the military, 63 persons were killed, including his daughter. In June the Janjawid reportedly accused the villagers of being 'traitors to Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.' [ ] In July the military arrested several persons including Brahim Siddiq, a seven-year-old boy. In June the Janjawid said during the attack: 'You are complicit with the opponents, you are Blacks, no Black can stay here, and no Black can stay in Sudan.' Arab women were accompanying the attackers singing songs in praise of the government and encouraging the attackers. The women said:

'The blood of the Blacks runs like water, we take their goods and we chase them from our area and our cattle will be in their land. The power of al-Bashir belongs to the Arabs and we will kill you until the end, you Blacks, we have killed your God.'  They also insulted the women from the village saying 'You are gorillas, you are Black, and you are badly dressed.'"

Gingerich and Leaning also report on the racial/ethnic animus in the accounts of rape coming from non-Arab or African women, accounts that make clear the genocidal nature of these assaults: "It is widely reported that during the attacks, the Janjaweed often berated the women, calling them slaves, telling them that they would now bear a 'free child,' and asserting that they (the perpetrators) are wiping out the non-Arabs." (page 15)

Specific dispatches, edited for length, highlight particular instances of rape and sexual violence; they are organized from the most recent to the most distant.  It is a grim and lengthy work in progress, to be found at: http://www.sudanreeves.org/2012/03/04/incidents-of-rape-to-be-read-with-rape-as-a-continuing-weapon-of-war-in-darfur/

Eric Reeves is a Sudan researcher and analyst at Smith College, and author of A Long Day's Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide (Key Publications/Canada, 2007); he has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for more than a decade.

The Seen and the Unseen in Darfur: Recent Reporting on violence, insecurity, and resettlement

By Eric Reeves

March 2, 2012 (SSNA) -- Vast human agony and destruction continues in Darfur, even if largely invisible within conventional news reporting. Girls and women continue to be raped in epidemic numbers; violent assaults on camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are constant, as are murders and robberies by militia forces; civilian targets continue to be bombed and strafed by Khartoum's military aircraft; and humanitarian conditions are appalling in far too many locations. And yet we hear very little of this. Given the determination of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) regime to deny virtually all reporting presence, this is hardly surprising.

The absence of reporting presence in Darfur

Most conspicuously, there is no human rights reporting presence in Darfur, nor has there been for a number of years; this includes even rapporteurs appointed in one form or another by the United Nations. The UN Panel of Experts on Darfur has been eviscerated, as the UN has acquiesced before Khartoum's demand that the Panel be composed of accommodating (if unqualified) members. Many senior Humanitarian officials have been expelled by Khartoum, including (for example) two from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in summer 2010. The IOM, along with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), will be the organizations most responsible for ensuring the IDPs return to their homes voluntarily and safely, perhaps the most critical issue defining Darfur's future.

Journalists travel rarely to Darfur and are allowed only where Khartoum's security and intelligence services permit; they confront a hostile bureaucracy that controls all visa and travel permits, and they are closely scrutinized by security forces during their entire stay in Darfur. The effects of such restrictions and travel limitations are in evidence in a recent dispatch from West Darfur by New York Times (NYT) correspondent Jeffrey Gettleman ("A Taste of Hope Sends Refugees Back to Darfur," February 26, 2012). In discussing the highly charged issue of IDPs returning to their lands and villages---this in the context of encouraging reports that some 100,000 refugees have returned from eastern Chad to an area east of el-Geneina---Gettleman's sources generalize excessively about Darfur, even as the dispatch as a whole omits mention of many key facts bearing on the sustainability of returns. Nowhere in the piece, for example, do we hear of an earlier "experiment" with returns that had also been cited as a success story by the UN:

"[Seven] families who came back to the Guldo region [West Darfur] in the framework of the Sudanese Government’s voluntary repatriation initiative were found in an extremely worrying state. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that they were part of 25 families who left Kalma Camp (South Darfur) as a part of the Voluntary Return program. However, the journey was too dangerous, and 18 families were forced to travel back to their original camp in South Darfur. Furthermore, they reported to Radio Dabanga that the remaining families did not receive any support from the province of West Darfur, even though it organized the deportation. They now call for international action to save these families, who are currently in a critical state." (Radio Dabanga, July 26, 2011, "Voluntary Repatriation: 7 families found in a critical state") (emphasis added; all emphases within the cited materials of this brief have been added)

And despite the calm and security the NYT correspondent finds in Nyuru village (some 50 kilometers southeast of al-Geneina), other areas find no such conditions. Insecurity facing IDPs already in the camp at Guldo was also reported by Radio Dabanga:

"Complaining farmers from Guldo Camp (West Darfur) pointed out the deliberate destruction of their farms by shepherds [i.e., nomadic Arab herders]. According to them, the shepherds intentionally set out their cows [i.e., cattle, as opposed to camels] 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 UN to provide them with the necessary protection."

More recently Radio Dabanga reports that a Khartoum official is selling the land of IDPs in Mornei, West Darfur (about 15 miles south of Nyuru):

"Residents at internally displaced persons camp at Mornei in West Darfur complained that the land they were displaced from named Bobai Amer is being sold off as residential land. A camp leader said to Radio Dabanga the land which is used for farming, is being sold by Muhammed Arbab Khamis of the ruling National Congress Party [as residential land] .... " (27 January 2012)

Without land, people will remain displaced. And all evidence suggests that the conditions at Guldo and Mornei are far more representative of Darfur than those at Nyuru. There are other, more consequential omissions in the NYT dispatch, and I discuss them below. Given the importance attached to reporting by The New York Times, and the very wide re-circulation of its dispatches, it has seemed important to assess fully just how misleading a singular view from the village of Nyuru may be in the larger context of Darfur.

For it is in fact likely that in Darfur during the past year the number of civilians newly displaced in Darfur exceeds the "more than 100,000" that the NYT correspondent is persuaded have returned to their homes. Here a March 2011 dispatch from the authoritative UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) offers grim but appropriate context:

"Tens of thousands of people continue to flee their homes in Sudan's western region of Darfur for the safety of internally displaced people's camps after recent fighting between government forces and armed militias. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), an estimated 66,000 IDPs have arrived in camps in North and South Darfur since January. At least 53,000 are in and around North Darfur State's Zam Zam IDP Camp." (IRIN, Nairobi 16 March 2011)

These figures are from the first quarter of 2011 alone; again, while reliable figures from all areas are not available, it may well be that the number of newly displaced civilians during 2011 far exceeded the number who have chosen to return to Nyuru (e.g., the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center estimated that as of November 2010, "268,000 [Darfuris had been] newly displaced"; more than 500,000 had been newly displace in the preceding two years). In any event, we know that the recently reported views expressed by displaced persons at Gereida camp in South Darfur are entirely typical:

"Gereida IDPs reject invitation for voluntary return

Gereida (23 January 2012) - Internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in Gereida, South Darfur have rejected the invitation by the head of the joint UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Ibrahim Gambari to voluntarily return to their villages. Gereida camp coordinator, Dawood Hagar said IDPs will only consider returning to their villages if there is a guarantee of security."

Gambari and UNAMID can make no such guarantee, and this is the most basic fact about the near-term future returns in Darfur.

Other gaps in reporting presence in Darfur

Reporting by international nongovernmental humanitarian organizations has also virtually disappeared. INGOs have been almost entirely muzzled by a UN leadership that refuses to speak honestly about conditions in camps and rural areas; these independent organizations well understand that if they do speak in ways that get ahead of the UN, they will be expelled by Khartoum. Thirteen of the world's finest relief organizations were expelled from Darfur in March 2009---roughly half the total humanitarian capacity at the time. Widespread silence is the consequence of this fear of further expulsions. Even so, we know a good deal about what is not being reported, and it is deeply disturbing; a year ago an important study from Tufts University concluded by declaring:

"Where humanitarian access has been maintained there have been serious delays and blocking of key information, for example, the failure to release regular nutrition survey reports, which contain the vital humanitarian indicators that enable the severity of the humanitarian crisis to be judged .... Crucial information about the humanitarian situation is lacking. There are serious issues with the proper validation of the nutrition survey reports and their immediate release---without such data neither the government nor the international community can properly understand the severity of the humanitarian situation or the efficacy of the response."

This has created an overall situation that should be extremely worrisome:

"International humanitarian capacities have been seriously eroded and impaired to a point that leaves Darfuris in a more vulnerable position now than at any other time since the counter-insurgency operations and forced displacements in 2003." ("Navigating Without a Compass: The Erosion of Humanitarianism in Darfur," January 2011; unreleased, in order to protect the anonymity of researchers)

[ I discuss the full, and still-unreleased Tufts report in detail, along with other features of the broader humanitarian situation in Darfur in "Darfur Humanitarian Overview: The Consequences of International Silence" at http://goo.gl/qCaI6. My most recent overview of the humanitarian situation is "Darfur: The Genocide the World Got Tired Of" at: http://goo.gl/pIZG3 ]

A central problem in reporting on humanitarian conditions over the past several years has been repeated UN acquiescence before various unacceptable demands by Khartoum: that mortality and malnutrition data not be promulgated; that conditions on the ground not be reported except through the UN; that various obstructive requirements be followed scrupulously. The immediately past head of UN humanitarian operations in Sudan, Georg Charpentier, was widely despised because of his continual deference to Khartoum and his conspicuous mendacity about humanitarian access and the promulgation of critical humanitarian data; many other UN officials and virtually all nongovernmental organizations sharply contradicted Charpentier, if necessarily confidentially. Indeed, most broadly---and on the basis of extensive research and a great many interviews---the Institute for War and Peace Reporting concluded: "UN and diplomatic sources who spoke to IWPR say Khartoum is deliberately undermining humanitarian efforts" ("UN Accused of Caving In to Khartoum Over Darfur," January 7, 2011 [The Hague]).

The effects of this suppression of humanitarian data are also included in the investigative report by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR):

"UNICEF reported early last year that as many as 21 nutritional surveys were conducted since June 2009, but only seven have been released by [Khartoum's] humanitarian affairs commission [HAC]. Six of those showed [Global Acute] malnutrition rates of between 15 and 29 per cent, the report stated."

The emergency threshold for malnutrition is a GAM rate of 15 percent or greater. The same IWPR report cites the head of UNICEF in Darfur, Nils Kastberg, on malnutrition studies of children:

"Nils Kastberg [said in October 2010] that Khartoum is preventing his agency from releasing reports about malnutrition in IDP camps. 'Part of the problem has been when we conduct surveys to help us address issues, in collaboration with the ministry of health, very often other parts of the government such as the humanitarian affairs commission [HAC] interferes and delays in the release of reports, making it difficult for us to respond [in a] timely [manner],' he said."

For his part, the former head of UN humanitarian operations declared to IWPR that "'UN humanitarian agencies are not confronted by pressure or interference from the Government of Sudan,' [Charpentier said in a written statement to IWPR]." This is a shameless lie. Moreover, it is also clear that Charpentier cynically manipulated data to suggest a lower number of IDPs in Darfur. Such mendacity only serves Khartoum's purposes and ensures that humanitarian assistance will be yet further compromised and denied.

Occasionally, it must be said, a UN official will speak bluntly about Darfur's realities, ensuring that she will not be able to make a return visit. The UN News Center itself reported on the June 2011 assessment mission by Kyung-wha Kang, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:

"A high-ranking United Nations human rights official today said she was shocked at the conditions of a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur and called for renewed international concern with the situation in the war torn Sudanese region. Kyung-wha Kang, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights visited the Zamzam IDP camp, which lies on the outskirts of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, and is home to more than 100,000 people." ("UN official 'shocked' by conditions in Darfur camp for displaced," UN News Center, 24 June 2011)

Reporting on these developments has appeared nowhere in The New York Times.

A continuing war

But if reporting on Darfur is challenging, it is not impossible. This past month has seen publication or promulgation of several important reports and updates, including the continuing dispatches of Radio Dabanga, which chronicle with grim particularity the continuing epidemic of rape, the acute deprivation within many Internally Displaced Persons camps, and the increasingly violent predations of the Central Reserve Police (CRP), also known as the "Abu Tira" (many former "Janjaweed" militiamen have been recycled into the Abu Tira; see below). Radio Dabanga, which is continually expanding its already impressive network of sources on the ground in Darfur, is also the most reliable source for reports of aerial bombing and direct-fire attacks on civilians. Working with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (The Hague), Radio Dabanga is essential reading for understanding Darfur in any broader sense.

The most important recent report this month comes this month from Amnesty International: "No End to Violence in Darfur: Arms Supplies Continue Despite Ongoing Human Rights Violations" (February 2012). Among other key findings, Amnesty notes in its Introduction that:

"The supply of various types of weapons, munitions and related equipment to Sudan in recent years, by the governments of Belarus, the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation, have allowed the Sudanese authorities to use their army, paramilitary forces, and government-backed militias to carry out grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Sudan. This ongoing flow of new arms to Darfur has sustained a brutal nine-year conflict which shows little sign of resolution.

"In the last twelve months, as other developments in Sudan overshadowed international attention on Darfur, the region has seen a new wave of fighting between armed opposition groups and government forces, including government-backed militias. The fighting has shifted during 2011 away from former epicentres of the war near the border with Chad and elsewhere, to eastern Darfur in particular. This has included targeted and ethnically motivated attacks on civilian settlements, and indiscriminate and disproportionate aerial bombings that have contributed to the displacement of an estimated 70,000 people from their homes and villages [this is a very conservative estimate of the number of newly displaced persons; sources on the ground and in the camps reported to Radio Dabanga that as of June 1, 2011, 83,000 people had already been newly displaced since the beginning of the year; see also above]."

What is especially disturbing in this particular report is that Amnesty International (AI) is filling the role that was to have been central to the mandate of the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005). But in yet another sign of UN failure in Darfur, the Panel of Experts no longer exists in meaningful form. Communications with previous experts who have been part of the Panel make clear that the UN has bent to the will of Khartoum and fully politicized the appointment of "experts." Former true experts have resigned in disgust when it became apparent that there would be no meaningful reporting presence in Darfur by the Panel.

Even so, AI's conclusion about the violations of the UN arms embargo on Darfur is certainly the right one, and the report puts much of the responsibility for fueling ongoing conflict where it properly belongs, with China, Russia, and Belarus---the first two stalwart diplomatic protectors of the Khartoum regime to which they have sold so much in the way of weaponry. AI draws a key conclusion in this report, though one that is predictably and strenuously resisted by Beijing and Moscow Permanent Members of the UN Security Council:

"The case of Darfur further demonstrates that it is ineffective to put in place an arms embargo on only part of a country and allow arms to be transferred to one of the parties to the conflict whom it is known will invariably transfer some of those arms to the conflict area under embargo, thereby fuelling further grave violations of international law."

AI also confirms many of the aerial attacks that I have reported on in comprehensive terms at www.sudanbombing.org (May 6, 2011; July 15, 2011; October 15, 2011; January 12, 2012). Additional details are provided on some of the confirmed 85 bombing and direct-fire attacks against civilians in 2011; all of these attacks are in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1591:

"Despite the UN SC having prohibited all airstrikes and aerial bombardments in Darfur since 2005, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) have continued to ignore this prohibition with total impunity. Witness testimonies from sites of airstrikes, material evidence of airstrikes, photographs and satellite imagery of armed military aircraft operating from Darfur's main airports, all indicate that SAF has continued to conduct aerial bombardments and direct-fire airstrikes on both military and civilian targets in all states of Darfur during 2011.

"Eyewitnesses indicate that SAF airstrikes in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan are carried out with Mi-24 attack helicopters and Su-25 ground attack aircraft, while other aerial bombardments are undertaken by Antonov-24/26 transport aircraft converted into rudimentary bombers.

"While SAF aerial attacks have been credibly reported across all of Darfur during 2011, they have been concentrated on two particular areas:

•Jebel Marra in West Darfur, the largest unitary area of Darfur's territory controlled by an armed opposition group (Sudan Liberation Army-Abdulwahid Mohamed Nour or SLA-AW) and,

•eastern Darfur, between the towns of Khor Abeshe and Abu Zerega around the North/South Darfur border.

"A number of aerial bombings have deliberately targeted civilian settlements, including attacks on villages in areas under government control perceived by the government to be harbouring Dafuri armed opposition groups."

These findings do not inform the NYT dispatch, which makes do with various self-serving quotes by UN and other officials, who offer claims that are simply not supported by the evidence.

One UN official declares disingenuously that "there are still pockets of insecurity" in Darfur. "Pockets of insecurity"? This is an extraordinarily misleading statement, though one eagerly sought by officials in Khartoum (see the extensive compendium below, making clear that insecurity in Darfur is in fact pervasive). Further, the NYT correspondent also cites the comments by a senior officer with UNAMID, the incompetent UN/African Union force that has been thoroughly discredited by various previous announcements on security and violence in Darfur. Indeed, UNAMID is a massive and hugely expensive failure, incompetent in protecting civilians or humanitarians (its primary mandate under Chapter 7 authority), and deeply deficient in reporting on attacks, violence, and bombings. This reporting failure is often a function of Khartoum's routine denial of access, despite a Status of Forces Agreement (2008) granting UNAMID complete freedom of movement in fulfilling its mandate.

The mission is desperate to justify itself and its continuing presence, and it is thus hardly surprising that Dysane Dorani, head of UNAMID for the western sector of Darfur, declares rapturously:

"'It's amazing,' [Dorani] said. 'The people are coming together. It reminds me of Lebanon after the civil war.'"

Present peace may indeed have come to some places in Darfur, and these reported returns may be a sign justifying greater hope, though we must forget that it is the "peace of the dead" that has come to some 500,000 people in Darfur. But it is simply tendentious to generalize on the basis of such limited success, or even as the NYT correspondent does to "parts of Darfur [that] finally appear to be turning around...." Which parts? What is the evidence? And why doesn't Khartoum allow such broader success to be seen, since the regime has every interest in presenting precisely the picture the NYT offers?

In generalizing about Darfur, we are much better guided by the authoritative Small Arms Survey (Geneva), which presents a picture very similar to that of Amnesty International in its January 18, 2012 update on armed conflict and insecurity in Darfur:

"At the military level in the field, all the Darfur rebel factions are currently cooperating, exhibiting a pragmatic survival instinct that is rallying the disparate militias against their common enemies. The Sudanese government has stepped up hostilities since early 2011, focusing on the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) stronghold of Jebel Marra and then the Zaghawa-held areas of North and South Darfur such as Shangal Tobaiya, where SLA-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) draws strength."

Human Rights Watch was just as emphatic in its assessment of violence a year ago:

"'While the international community remains focused on Southern Sudan, the situation in Darfur has sharply deteriorated,' said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. 'We are seeing a return to past patterns of violence, with both government and rebel forces targeting civilians and committing other abuses.'" (IRIN [Nairobi], January 28, 2011)

Even Nigeria's Ibrahim Gambari, the duplicitous and incompetent head of UNAMID, was obliged two months ago to backtrack on his claim of dramatically reduced violence:

"Recent surge of violence impede UNAMID patrols in Darfur - Gambari

The African Union and United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said Sudanese government restricted the movement of its patrols due the recent surge of clashes in the region. The hybrid mission highlighted recently the decrease of fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and rebel groups .... " (Sudan Tribune, December 30, 2011 [Khartoum])

Significantly, the three most militarily powerful Darfur rebel groups have recently made formal common cause with the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement- North.

[The SPLA/M-N should be sharply distinguished from the Sudan People's Liberation Army of South Sudan: their split was formalized before the September 9, 2011 deadline stipulated in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement; see page 128, Security Protocol, Appendix 2: "Calendar and Timetable," in the section on the "Post Interim Period."]

Early reports from fighting at Trogi, South Kordofan (25 kilometers to the north of Jau on the North/South border) suggest that under the military leadership of Abdel Aziz el-Hilu, the Sudan Revolution Force (as the alliance has been called) has scored a major military victory. El-Hilu is widely credited with superb tactical and strategic skills as a military leader, and the victory at Trogi would suggest that he has been biding his time, waiting for Khartoum's forces to become over-extended. But already the response of Khartoum is to blame Juba for this defeat, in which the a major garrison post was captured, one that may have held as many as two brigades and vast quantities of light and heavy weapons and ammunition. How this will shape military actions and violence in Darfur is unclear, but the regime may well decide that the cheapest strategy, the one that ties down fewest of their already overstretched forces, will be to turn the militia groups loose on civilians-- to create what Human Rights Watch has called in one of its reports "chaos by design" in Darfur.

The NYT dispatch declares that the rebel factions are now "weaker" because of the fall of el-Qaddafi (who had provided many of the weapons found throughout the Chad/Darfur region) and because of rapprochement between Khartoum and N'Djamena. And to be sure, the dynamics of supply, staging, and logistics for the rebels have changed very significantly. But they are far from "weak" and the military alliance with the SPLA-North may yet prove to be a significant "force multiplier." The rebels have been written off several times before, and yet they have not been subdued in a number of areas, most significantly the Jebel Marra massif in central Darfur as well as various rural regions. Given the military volatility of the North/South border, it may be the rebels who confront a weakened and depleted Sudan Armed Forces. Notably, the number of bombing attacks has already fallen off sharply in Darfur with the intensifying war efforts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile that began in mid-2011.

None of these reports or developments figure anywhere in the NYT account, in which their correspondent reports first-hand only what the UN, Khartoum, and a disgraced UNAMID force wish him to see---and that is all.

"Urbanization" in Darfur

When speaking more broadly about Darfur, the NYT correspondent cites what are finally bizarre comments by US senior advisor for Darfur Dane Smith:

"'Darfur is 'a quite different place from 2003,' said Dane Smith, the American senior adviser for Darfur. He cited a telling statistic: In 2003, 18 percent of Darfur’s population lived in urban areas. Now it's about 50 percent."

The ironies here evidently escape both Smith and the NYT correspondent. If 50 percent of Darfur's population now lives in urban areas, this is a catastrophe on many levels. For the vast populations of displaced persons that account for such a precipitous increase aren't living "urban lives"; indeed, the vast majority are in the environs of towns only because they are desperate for security that UNAMID can't provide. A great many of the largest IDP camps are on the outskirts of the major cities of Nyala, el-Fasher, and el-Geneina, and they are becoming more permanent by the day. But there are no jobs for most of these people, and wages are such that women must often take on grueling jobs for very low pay (see "Darfur Women Take on Hard Labor," IWPR, February 8, 2012). It is continuing, powerfully threatening insecurity---not economic incentives or a desire for a different way of life---that accounts for "urbanization."

Moreover, there are many highly destructive consequences of the war on civilians that Khartoum has chosen to wage, and which has produced the mass movements to towns---and indeed "changed the demography of Darfur" (these words were the explicit instruction contained in a directive from notorious Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal in the early phase of the Darfur genocide, August 2004). We should note first the overall cost of the war in purely economic terms: Danielle Goldberg, Program Coordinator, Peace-building and Rights Program, Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, provides a very useful overview of a study by Dr. Hamid Ali from American University in Cairo, the first such study of its kind:

"[Khartoum spent] US$35.11 billion ... between 2003-2009 on the war effort in Darfur. Dr. Ali presented his research to Sudanese diaspora, Sudan advocacy groups, and faculty and students at a workshop organized by Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights on January 10, 2012.

"[This 'staggering cost' is] broken into the following: $10.08 billion in direct military expenses; $7.2 billion in productivity lost by internally displaced persons (IDPs), $2.6 billion in lifetime earnings of the dead, $4.1 billion in infrastructure damage and $11.04 billion for military spillover and UNAMID peace keeping operations. This excludes indirect costs such as capital flight, the emigration of skilled labor, and lost educational opportunities for future generations due to insufficient data. While data related to the conflict is limited, as information is censored and classified by the government, Ali's finding offer a valuable baseline for future research."

This extraordinary total has many implications, some of them obvious, others not-- none of them considered in the account offered by the NYT. For such massive misallocation of national resources has contributed in substantial ways to the current deep economic crisis in (northern) Sudan. The relatively brief economic boom fueled by oil revenues has rapidly collapsed and the economy is now in desperate shape.

This has direct implications for any implementation of the terms of the Doha "Darfur Peace Agreement," signed last summer by only Khartoum and a small, cobbled-together "rebel faction" with no political or military power on the ground in Darfur. The Doha document---which has been overwhelmingly rejected by Darfuri civil society---nominally commits the Khartoum regime to a series of financial payments and capital investments in Darfur that have become simply impossible. Even when Khartoum was still feeling flush following the signing of the Abuja "Darfur Peace Agreement" (May 2006), it made good on none of its financial commitments or reparation payments. The upshot is that urbanized areas are likely to become even more economically distressed as the broader northern economy continues its inexorable contraction: some economists estimate that it will shrink by as much as 4.5 percent for 2012. Unemployment will skyrocket, and there will be fewer and fewer employment opportunities for those in the camps near Darfur's urban centers; and this will breed further anger, frustration, and despair among populations that have known nothing but "urban life" for as long as nine years in many cases.

For as the NYT dispatch points out, war in Darfur has taken a terrible toll on traditional rural agricultural life: "Darfur's conflict has destroyed not only innumerable lives but also a whole way of life." What were formerly villages have in thousands of cases been "reduced to nothing more than rings of ash by armed raiders." This former way of life for countless generations of Darfuris can't be recaptured, and not so much because of the amenities that are cited as inducements for staying in urban areas, but because knowledge of an agricultural way of life-- its rhythms, its demands, its rewards, the intimacy of communal existence---has been lost to a generation that has come of age in the camps. A boy or girl born in 1997 who entered a camp in 2003 at age six would be fifteen now; these are critical years in understanding the "traditional ways." They are likely lost forever to a majority of non-Arab/African Darfuri youths.

The loss of agricultural life in Darfur, and the urbanization of these formerly rural populations, will in itself have dramatic consequences. The very day that the NYT account appeared, recording Dane Smith's apparent celebration of urbanization in Darfur, a much more sobering study was released by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). And it is a devastating portrait of environmental damage that may be irreversible; it is certainly one of the largest costs of the war and makes inescapably clear that the largest current concentrations of populations (i.e., urban areas and the surrounding IDP camps) are unsustainable:

"[The UN] FAO ... presented the findings of its 'Darfur Wood-fuel Supply and Demand' assessment in which it indicated that current wood harvesting is causing the degradation and depletion of existing resources, a press statement by the UN body indicated Sunday [February 27, 2012]." ("Land Cover Mapping and Wood Energy Analysis of Darfur's IDP Regions")

Beneath measured prose and a plethora of maps and charts in this 75-page study, there is a grim quantification of degradation and depletion, and it augurs ominously for the future of all Darfur: in those areas where people are most concentrated, the imbalance between wood energy production (biomass) and demand is shockingly great. In Nyala, for example, the annual accessible supply potential of wood fuel for 2011 was 52,000 tons; but actual demand was 366,000 tons. These data are presented in the form of several maps, coded to indicate the imbalance, and a chart that quantifies the "supply/demand balance," indicated by ratios: from balanced (-0.5 to +0.5, represented by a neutral color) to extremely high imbalances (-50 to 20, indicated by red with black dots), i.e., dramatic deficiencies in the biomass required for wood energy production.

For large camps around the major cities and towns---e.g., Kalma, Zamzam (old and new), Abu Shouk, al-Salaam, the Kass camps, Riyhad, Brindisi, Mornei, Ardamata, Krinding 1 and 2, Beilel, Mukjar and Garsila camps---this is a formula for violent competition for scarce resources, and there is already considerable evidence that this is occurring.

Needless to say, the FAO report has not been reported by The New York Times.

Living lives of radical insecurity

However dismaying it may be that the NYT correspondent does so little to contextualize his visit to Nyuru village in West Darfur with other reports and perspectives, what is most dismaying is the evident refusal to consider seriously reports from Radio Dabanga as a guide to what life is like in Darfur. Security may be fine in Nyuru, and the women of Nyuru may not need to worry about being raped; but we needn't look far in West Darfur to encounter a very different view of the security environment, one that comports neither with the reported picture of Nyuru or UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari's preposterously self-congratulatory declaration that violence in Darfur has been reduced by 70 percent.

A partial list of recent headlines from Radio Dabanga, along with dates, suggests just how pervasive are violence and insecurity, the primary obstacles to large-scale returns:

[1] Nine women raped by Abu Tira forces

Al Lair Jar Al Nabi (9 February 2012) - Elements of Abu Tira forces (Central Reserve Forces) reportedly raped nine South Sudanese female refugees in Al Lait Jar Al Nabi in North Darfur in the past week, relative of one of the victims told Radio Dabanga ....

[2] Woman raped east of Zalingei

Zalingei, West Darfur (12 January 2012) - On Wednesday a young woman was raped by two armed men near Wadi Dul Beja displaced persons camp, east of Zalingei, in West Darfur. A female source told Radio Dabanga the woman ventured out of the camp with her sister and mother to collect firewood .... [Zalingei is about 50 miles southeast of Nyuru---ER]

[3] Girl, 14, raped in West Darfur

El Geneina (4 January 2012) - A 14-year-old girl was raped by an unknown number of gunmen, near Kandomi displaced persons' camp in West Darfur, a source told Radio Dabanga. The girl was with four others on the way back to the camp from El Geneina hospital on Monday where they were visiting a relative. [Kandomi/Kondobi camp is approximately 35 miles from Nyuru---ER]

[4] Girl raped in North Darfur camp

El Fasher (30 December 2011) - On Wednesday the rape of a 12-year-old girl was reported in the Shaddad camp for displaced persons in the Shangil Tobaya region of North Darfur. A witness said that the girl was snatched at the camp and taken to the headquarters of the government affiliated Popular Defense Force (PDF), where she endured the attack for 10 hours ....

[5] Women raped near Eastern Chad refugee camp

Eastern Chad (30 December, 2011) - Four women from Darfur were raped in Gaga refugee camp in Eastern Chad on Sunday, a source has told Radio Dabanga. The women ventured out of the camp to fetch firewood in the early afternoon when they were attacked by four armed gunmen. A fifth woman suffered a beating but managed to escape ....

[6] Group of women raped near Kabkabiya

Kabkabiya (25 December 2011) - A group of women were raped by an armed group on Saturday near an internally displaced persons camp in Kabkabiya locality, North Darfur. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, one of the victims said that eight gunmen on horses intercepted the six women traveling on donkeys to collect firewood from an area east of Kabkabiya ....

[7] Rape and beating in South Darfur

Nyala (18 December 2011) - Three women were raped by an armed group on Saturday near the Internally Displaced People's (IDP) camp in Mershing locality, South Darfur, a witness told Radio Dabanga. The women left Hashaba camp to search for firewood when the armed men opened heavy gunfire in the air to scare them. They detained the women, beating them and taking turns to rape them ....

[8] Woman raped near Zam Zam camp

El Fasher (14 December 2011) - A woman was raped by two men dressed in military uniform in North Darfur on Tuesday, a witness told Radio Dabanga. The woman was living in Zam Zam camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) fleeing the conflict in the area. Carrying her four month old baby, she ventured out of the camp 2 km east to collect firewood ....

[UNAMID has proved incapable of protecting even the IDPs of ZamZam, on the outskirts of el-Fasher, where UNAMID headquarters are located.]

[9] High school student coaxed out of house, raped by gang of men in Kass (13 January 2012) - On Thursday a high school student was raped by four armed men in Kass locality, South Darfur. A relative of the girl told Radio Dabanga that four armed men in civilian clothing knocked on the door of the family house. When her father answered, the men said they had an arrest warrant for the girl. The mother asked to see the warrant but was told it is not her place to question the competence of the police ....

[10] Two rapes in West Darfur

ZALINGEI (29 November 2011) -A refugee [from] West Darfur’s Hassa Hissa camp was raped and killed by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday, a source from Zalingei told Radio Dabanga. The armed group allegedly raped the woman in front of her husband after the evening prayers, when the victim was returning home from the city with her husband.

[Zalingei is about 50 miles southeast of the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

[11] IDP raped in Qarsla

Qarsla (5 December 2011) - An Armed group on Sunday raped an internally displaced person from Jebelain camp in Qarsla, Western Darfur. A witness told Radio Dabanga that the Gunmen attacked the displaced person while she was working on her farm in Wadi Mara, 3 kilometers south of the camp. He said that the gunmen took turns in raping the displaced person and pointed out that the region has no UNAMID mandate and that no complaint was filed at police as no procedure will be carried out as in previous incidents ....

[Qarsla---more commonly Garsila--- is about 60 miles southeast of the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

[12] Serial rape crimes in West Darfur: Five women fall victim to armed shepherds in one week

MORNEI (17 November 2012) - A series of rape crimes were committed in West Darfur’s Mornei region this week, witnesses told Radio Dabanga on Thursday. Two refugee women were raped in Mornei region’s Kabiri Valley on Tuesday, on in Aro Valley on the same day and two others in Mornei refugee camp on Monday. In all cases, armed shepherds were accused of the rapes ....

[Mornei is about 15 miles from the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

[13] Armed group rapes student

EL FASHER (11 November 2011) - Witnesses accuse that the crime has an ethnic dimension A group of unidentified armed men reportedly raped a student from the region of Azban in Tawaisha, North Darfur on Wednesday. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the crime was committed on ethnic lines. The group allegedly demanded other women belonging to the same ethnicity to leave the village immediately after they had raped the student.

[14] Sudan: Three Teenagers Raped in West Darfur

GARSILA (6 November 2011) - An unidentified armed group raped three teenage refugees in West Darfur's Garsila camp on Friday, witnesses told Radio Dabanga. "Three gunmen took the women from the village of Amarjadid in Western Garsila. The women were aged 14, 15 and 17," a witness told Radio Dabanga.

[Garsila is about 60 miles to the south of the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

[15] Refugee shot dead in North Darfur

KABKABIYA (9 November 2011) - He was killed by armed men after he attempted to rescue girls from being raped A refugee, Ahmed Saleh, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Al Matar neighborhood of North Darfur's Kabkabiya locality on Tuesday. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that 52-year-old Adam Saleh was killed after he tried rescuing some girls in his neighborhood from four armed gunmen who were trying to rape them.

[16] Policemen rape minor in West Darfur

EL GENEINA (21 November 2012) - Two policemen allegedly raped a nine-year old girl from El Geneina in West Darfur on Monday, a relative of the victim told Radio Dabanga. The relative told Radio Dabanga that the girl, who lived in Abu Zr refugee camp, had been asked to fetch water by her mother before sunset.

[el-Geneina is about 25 miles northwest of the NYT dateline Nyuru---ER]

[17] Woman gang-raped in West Darfur

GARSILA (23 November 2011) - Armed herders wearing military uniforms accused of committing the crime Armed herders gang-raped a 32-year-olddisplaced woman from West Darfur's Wadi Dawari locality on Wednesday, awitness told Radio Dabanga. Three herders were allegedly involved in the killingwhich took place 3 km from the city of West Garsila.

[Garsila is about 60 miles to the south of the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

These reports recur with a ghastly frequency, week in and week out, month in and month out---and have for years. Tens of thousands of Darfuri girls and women have been brutally raped as part of a deliberate, genocidal strategy in the counter insurgency war.

Continued aerial attacks on civilians throughout Darfur

It must be noted that the NYT dispatch has not a word about confirmed aerial military attacks on civilians in Darfur, including West Darfur. There were 85 such attacks in 2011 (www.sudanbombing.org), including 19 on West Darfur itself, many in the Jebel Marra region of West Darfur, which begins some 70 miles to the east of Nyuru. These singular war crimes---in aggregate, over many years, clearly crimes against humanity---have been insufficiently appreciated for their cruel destructiveness. The world's grim fascination with the willingness of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria to shell and even bomb civilians in towns might be more appropriately turned to Darfur, South Sudan, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan. Over the past 23 years, the NIF/NCP regime led by Omar al-Bashir has been responsible for more than 1,700 confirmed attacks on civilian or humanitarian targets. Many hundreds of thousands of people have been killed directly as a result of these aerial assaults, or wounded, or displaced---often to what is merely postponed death.

The character of aerial attacks on Darfur's non-Arab or African populations in the early years of the Darfur genocide have been fairly well documented by human rights groups. But absent a human rights reporting presence, and with only an incapable UNAMID force to investigate reports of bombing, many have come to forget just how savage the destruction can be, and what a terrible engine of human displacement these aerial attacks are. Radio Dabanga has yet again provided detailed reportage throughout 2011, including for some of the most horrific incidents of civilian destruction:

•18 women and 9 children killed in air strike in Jebel Marra, Darfur

JEBEL MARRA (28 April 2011) - 27 people were killed, including 18 women and 9 children, when an Antonov plane dropped several bombs on the areas of Koloberi and Gurlengbang in the southern part of the Jebel Marra region.Six women were also injured in the air attack. A witness told RadiDabanga that the airstrikes led to the burning of 27 houses and also the death ofsheep and cattle. He stated that the bombed areas had been free of any rebel presence.

Darfur airstrikes: 13 dead, 10 wounded

SOUTH DARFUR (16 May 2011) - Thirteen (13) citizens were killed and 10 people wounded in two consecutive airstrikes in South Darfur. An Antonov plane belonging to the Sudanese Army dropped bombs on the area of Asharaya in Yassin district of Darfur this Sunday morning leading to the death of 12. The second incident happened in the area of [Labado]. Witnesses to the incidents stated that 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 Antonov plane returned and bombed the area leading to the immediate death of 10 people 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. Two others were wounded.

[Following these brutal bombing attacks---reported also by Reuters, Bloomberg, AFP and the UN News Centre---Khartoum denied access to both UNAMID and humanitarians trying to reach the sites where people had been killed and wounded.]

•4 killed and 14 wounded in Antonov airstrike south of El Daein.

EL DAIEN (19 April 2011) – An Antonov airplane belonging to the [Sudan Armed Forces] bombarded the village of Um Ajaba which lies south of El Daein city toward Bahr El Arab [South Darfur]. The bombardment led to the killing of 4 people and wounding of 14 others. An eyewitness from Um Ajaba told Radio Dabanga that the attacks from government planes have been frequent during the past few days on the areas of Um Ajaba and Tika Eltom. He added that the citizens of those areas are living in fear and panic due to the possibility of more airstrikes, saying that the military operations have been targeting civilians only, far from the armed factions which the government claims to be targeting.

The bombing began early in 2011:

•Almost daily Antonov flights in Khor Abeche region

KHOR ABECHE (January 22, 2011) - Refugees in the area of Khor Abeche, South Darfur, said the region has been relatively calm, but expressed fear of renewed fighting cautious due to the almost daily flights of Antonov aircraft in the region's skies. The displaced persons said they also fear the spread of diseases due to lack of food rations and the deteriorating health environment and crowding of 12,000 people. The refugees further said that the recent events in the area led to the displacement of more than 1,200 pupils from the basic school and the burning of at least 60 houses and property, which resulted in the destruction of all the citizens' savings and food, in addition to 300 head of cattle.

•Fighting, air strikes in Darfur rebel zone force thousands to flee

ROKERO (January 31, 2011) - Heavy fighting erupted between SAF forces and the movement of Abdel Wahid on Saturday and Sunday in Rokero Locality, northeast of Jebel Marra. Nimr Abdelrahman, military spokesman of the rebel movement, announced to Radio Dabanga that the government forces bombed the area, which led to the displacement of more than 7,000 citizens of that region. He said that the SLA forces won the battle.

The air strikes on areas of northeast of Jebel Marra in Rokero on Saturday led to the abandonment of eight villages. Witnesses said that a number of people were wounded in the air raids on the village. They were taken to the hospital at Kagora. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the air strikes began after a large force of infantry from the Sudanese army battled Abdel Wahid’s forces in those areas. The government aircraft appeared to be bombing at random in the region from 7:00am until 6:00pm on Saturday. The bombardment targeted the villages Awsajank, Bargu, Gamra, Bola, Kuju, Koja, Tago, and Neiri.

•Air strikes west of Shangil Tobaya, Darfur cause thousands to flee

SHANGIL TOBAYA (February 24, 2011) - Two attacking Antonov bombers and invading ground forces yesterday caused thousands to flee to the hills and valleys around North Darfur villages. More than 4 thousand people yesterday fled from the region of Abu Hamra, west of Shangil Tobaya in North Darfur.

The ground forces consisted of more than 20 vehicles and local militias, according to one villager who fled from the region. He told Radio Dabanga that two Antonovs dropped a number of bombs on the region before the entry of government forces and local militias from the area Um Dereisaya. The source pointed out that a number of shells fell near a school during school hours.

•Bombing east of Jebel Marra kills 3 women, 2 children

EAST JEBEL (February 18, 2011) - Government warplanes killed 3 women and 2 children in central Darfur yesterday and Wednesday, according to an official in a rebel movement present in the area. A large number of cattle also perished in the air strikes in the area of East Jebel. Mohamed Ahmed Yagub, Secretary of Humanitarian Affairs of the Liberation and Justice Movement, told Radio Dabanga that Antonov planes and helicopter gunships bombarded areas of East Jebel including the villages of Tokumarre, Massalit, Hashaba, Wadi Mora and Dali. The attacks killed three women, two children and a large number of livestock and camels, he said. The bombs also destroyed water sources and caused people in these villages to flee. He added that bombardment is still going on west of Shangil Tobaya and near Shaddad Camp.

•Again aerial bombardments in South Darfur

NYALA (30 March 2011) - More than fifteen citizens were injured after Antonov Aircraft aerial attacks on the village of Shawa Bawadi and Ladeed in South Darfur. The wounded were taken to Nyala hospital for treatment. UNAMID also reported aerial bombardments in Khirwajid in South Darfur stating that thirteen people were wounded, and many houses and properties destroyed.

•4 days of airstrikes causes at least 1 death and destruction of school

EL FASHER (April 4, 2011) - In areas of North and West Darfur heavy airstrikes were witnessed on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Besides many injuries, one woman was killed, and a school was destroyed. In different airstrikes on Saturday a woman was killed and three others were wounded, including a four-year-old female child when an Antonov aircrafts dropped bombs that hit Sebit Market in Hashaba, North of Kutum. Other eyewitnesses told Radio Dabanga that militias loyal to the government backed by air support attacked areas in the vicinity of Shangil Tobayi on Thursday.

And the bombing continued to the very end of 2011:

South Darfur bombed by Sudanese Air Force

NYALA (27 November 2011) -The Sudanese Air Force bombed areas of Tawiil, Beer Togud and Milli in South Darfur, the Justice and EqualityMovement (JEM) said on Sunday. A civilian from South Darfur’s Aljorin localityconfirmed Friday’s air strikes in Alrehaid Aboutaib and Aljorin localities. Thewitness told Radio Dabanga that the aerial bombing took place at four in theafternoon. "About 34 bombs were dropped in the area. It injured a 10-year-oldresident Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed. The bombings also killed nearly 30 cattle."

•Bombing in North Darfur

Muddu (21 December 2011) - On Tuesday night the Sudanese air force dropped nine bombs in Muddu, North Darfur, a local witness told Radio Dabanga. Witnesses said that many people had fled as the shelling had succeeded to create panic in the hearts of citizens in the region.

•Air strikes kill 3 from same family in Darfur

El Fasher (26 December 2011) - 3 people were killed and 5 were injured from the same family, during air strikes in the village of Khamsat, Al Lait Jar Al Nabi locality, North Darfur, a witness told Radio Dabanga. The bombing took place when the family was having dinner, killing the father Hasabon Al Zain Hamid along with one of his sons and one daughter. The injured were transferred to Al Lait Jar Al Nabi hospital.

•Air strikes and clashes continue in Darfur

El Fasher (27 December 2011) - Bombing was witnessed in North and South Darfur, there were clashes between the SLM-AW and government forces in West Darfur and unknown militias mounting attacks in South Darfur. Bombing has caused the displacement of large areas near Adila, South Darfur, witnesses told Radio Dabanga. Witnesses said Jad al Sid and S'alba were targeted heavily by the Sudanese air force on Monday and Tuesday, along with Abu Karinka and Jawgan causing many people to flee.

•5 killed in air strikes in South Darfur

Bahr al Arab (29 December 2012) - The Sudanese air force reportedly bombed several villages in Bahr al Arab locality in South Darfur on Wednesday. Speaking to Radio Dabanga witnesses claimed five people were killed and a further 15 injured in the villages of Jawgan, Abu Matarig, Um Irig and El Fayed during the heavy shelling. Citizens strongly expressed their condemnation and anger at the indifference shown by the government during the attacks of civilian lives and property, said the source.

We may gather a sense of how relentless the bombing has been from other sources as well, including the previous work of the now eviscerated UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, no longer able (or even willing as presently configured) to discharge its mandate to monitor offensive military flights over Darfur, explicitly prohibited by UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005):

"The ability of the Panel to gather and verify such information has been severely curtailed by its lack of access to the Sudan, including to Darfur. Since the renewal of it mandate on 14 October 2010, the Panel has received reports of possible offensive military overflights from UNAMID, media organisations and other sources. These reports have included:

•Reports of aerial offensives, including bombings, around Khor Abeche in South Darfur; around Tabit in North Darfur; near the Kiir Adem bridge in the vicinity of the South Darfur-Southern Sudan border; around Um Dul village in North Darfur; around Abu Zerega in North Darfur; in the area of Wad Mura in North Darfur; around Aramba village near Sartoni in North Darfur; around Kushini North, Um Arda and Korofola villages in North Darfur; around Burgo, Rowata and Owsajin villages north of Sartoni, North Darfur; around Shangil Tobaya and Tukumara in North Darfur; around Samr and Berti villages, North Darfur; between Rufta and Bargo in Jebel Marra; around Khirwajid village, South Darfur;

• Reports of shootings by helicopters around Magarin and Nortik villages in North Darfur;

• Reports of the use of helicopters and other aircraft otherwise in support of military ground operations in the vicinity of Tabit in North Darfur; around Khor Abeche in South Darfur; and around Golo and Rokero, West Darfur.

The Janjaweed live on in other forms

Finally, the Janjaweed are not gone, as the NYT suggests, although they may well be absent from the area of Nyuru, and this may indeed be what triggered what is certainly a significant number of returns. But the Janjaweed have in all too many cases not disappeared, particularly if we consider the actions of the Central Reserve Police, or Abu Tira, into which so many former Janjaweed militiamen have been recycled. Members of the paramilitary Abu Tira (highlighted in bold in the following dispatches) are continuously reported by Radio Dabanga as responsible for innumerable acts of violence as well as atrocity crimes, crimes which are rampant in a great many places in Darfur. The pervasive insecurity consequent upon the predations of the Abu Tira and other armed elements controlled or countenanced by Khartoum's security forces is now the primary reason that returns are not occurring in larger numbers.

There is also almost continuous fighting between militia forces, sedentary agriculturalists, nomadic pastoralists (from whom the militia forces were largely drawn), and other armed elements. A very partial compendium of Radio Dabanga dispatches focusing on the most recent of violent attacks on civilians, but including representative examples from throughout 2011, would include:

•Abu Tira attacks newly displaced families at Zam Zam camp

(Zam Zam camp, 28 February 2012) - Abu Tira forces attacked families newly displaced from Abu Delik, a village that witnessed violent events last week. Dozens of families fled Abu Delik to Zam Zam internally displaced camp in North Darfur; Witnesses said Abu Tira surrounded the area of the new arrivals and arrested two men, named as El Tahir Bashir and Soraya Omar Ahmed. They proceeded to beat and attack camp residents, causing 40 families from Abu Delik to flee to the joint UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) headquarters to seek shelter. Witnesses also said security forces have positioned themselves outside the UNAMID headquarters, and will arrest anyone that tries to leave the camp via UNAMID HQ.

•Random shootings plague West Darfur

El Geneina (21 February 2012) - A group of gunmen killed a man on Sunday near El Geneina. A witness told Radio Dabanga armed men opened fire on a internally displaced man named Osman Adam, from Riyadh IDP camp, as he was riding a motorcycle on his way from El Geneina to the camp. He died instantly. In another incident the witness said a group of gunmen shot at a group of displaced people killing a 55 year old woman and wounding others.

[El-Geneina is about 30 miles west of NYT dateline Nyuru.]

•Militia group threatens displaced person camp in Mershing

Mershing (30 January 2012) -A group of armed men dressed in military uniform threatened residents at the internally displaced persons camp of Tom Kittr, in Mershing, South Darfur on Sunday.

•Herders and farmers clash in Kass, South Darfur

Kass (15 February 2012) - On Tuesday [February 14] the city of Kass in South Darfur witnessed clashes between farmers and herders. There were conflicting reports about injuries and fatalities. One witness told Radio Dabanga the fighting killed two herders and injured an unknown number. He said the clashes erupted when a group of cattle herders entered farms trampling on crops and vegetables, damaging the land.

•Abu Tira threatening IDPs in Zam Zam camp

Zam Zam camp (31 January 2012) - A man was threatened and looted on Sunday [January 29] by soldiers belonging to Abu Tira (central reserve forces) in Zam Zam internally displaced persons camp, North Darfur. A displaced resident told Radio Dabanga, Abu Tira forces threatened a man named Omar Isaac and stole his mobile phone and 400 Sudanese Pounds (SDG). Camp residents told security at the camp about the incident. They were ordered to go into El Fasher to report the incident to the police. The source said Abu Tira forces continue to walk inside and around the camp causing a great deal of instability.

[Again, UNAMID has proved incapable of protecting even the IDPs of ZamZam, on the outskirts of el-Fasher, where UNAMID headquarters are located.]

•Abu Tira forces attack man in South Darfur

Kabon camp (31 January 2012) - 3 soldiers of the Abu Tira forces attacked a man on Sunday at Kabon internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in South Darfur. The victim named as Adam Daw el-Beit Idris, was taken to hospital in an unconscious state. An IDP told Radio Dabanga the Abu Tira soldiers asked the man to go with them into the center of the camp. The man entered a dispute with the soldiers and was beaten badly. He remains in a serious state in hospital. Camp residents also reported Abu Tira attacking their donkeys. They said Abu Tira forces attack their animals when IDPs try to challenge them out of the camps. Displaced residents have protested to local authorities, but they are yet to respond.

•Father and son shot dead in North Darfur

KUTUM, North Darfur (1 February 2012) - A father and son named Adam Muhammed Abdullah and Haroun Muhammed were shot dead on Tuesday at their home in Damrat Al Guba, Kutum locality in North Darfur on Tuesday. A witness told Radio Dabanga that two gunmen dressed in military uniforms entered a shop belonging to the father with a third wearing civilian clothing. They asked the owner for cigarettes and halva, and then demanded the son hand over all the money kept in the shop. The son refused and was shot in the stomach. He died two hours later.

•Looting in North Darfur Malha

MALHA (16 January 2012) - An armed group of men has beaten and looted a group of civilians in the village of Donkey Ushur, in Malha locality, North Darfur. A source said a group were traveling in a vehicle to Donkey Ushur at nine in the morning when they were attacked by 15 gunmen.

•Armed group loots 75 sheep from Fatah Borno IDP camp

Fatah Borno camp (6 February 2012) - An armed group has looted seventy-five sheep from Fatah Borno internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in North Darfur. A female IDP said 'gunmen fired heavily into the air, causing those looking after the sheep to flee.' The gunmen then stole the animals.

•Four Abu Tira groups terrorize citizens in North Darfur

Al Lait Jar Al Nabi (3 February 2012) - 8 citizens were injured including a police- man in an attack by four groups belonging to the Abu Tira forces (central reserve forces) in Al Lait Jar Al Nabi locality, in North Darfur on Thursday. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga the first attack was at a party where Abu Tira forces fired on revelers, stealing their mobile phones and money. Omar Musa Abu was shot in the head and Badr Eddin Ahmed Abdullah a policeman was also injured.

•Fatah Borno camp demands militia groups stop attacking IDPs

Fatah Borno camp (25 January 2012) - Internally displaced persons living in Fatah Borno camp, North Darfur said yesterday the camp's security situation is gettingworse. Camp residents are constantly being attacked by militant groups looting and abusing them when they venture out of the camp to collect water or firewood. Residents said they feel trapped.

•Man beaten at IDP camp in North Darfur

El Fasher (16 January 2012) - A man named as Hassan Abdel Salam Mohammed was attacked on Sunday morning by an armed group affiliated with the government near Fata Barno internally displaced persons camp in North Darfur. A source told Radio Dabanga that Mohammed was subjected to a severe beating with whips after venturing out of the camp to collect firewood.

•Three killed in North Darfur

Kabkabiya (1 January 2012) - Three people were killed and two injured when an armed group attacked Goz Zalta village, Serif Beni Husein locality, in North Darfur on Saturday. A source told Radio Dabanga at 8am on Saturday morning, 15 gunmen traveling on horses approached the village from north and west.

•Looting in Gereida, South Darfur

Nyala (1 January 2012) - On Friday, an armed group looted three vehicles in Gereida locality, South Darfur, seriously injuring eight people. The witness said that one of the injured was taken to Nyala hospital.

•Kandobi camp looted in West Darfur

Kandomi (2 January 2012) -The displaced persons Kandobi camp in West Darfur was looted yesterday evening by a group of, a witness told Radio Dabanga.

[Kandomi/Kondobi camp is approximately 35 miles from the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

•Man stabbed by Abu Tira forces in North Darfur

El Fasher (30 December 2011) - A man was killed today in Zam Zam camp, near El Fasher in North Darfur by Abu Tira forces (Central Reserve Force personnel) for refusing to hand over his belongings, a witness stated.

•Man killed, two injured near El Fasher

El Fasher (18 December 2011) - One man was killed and two injured this week when gunmen traveling in Land Cruisers attacked camel traders in Donki Shuta near El Fasher.

•Shepherd militants attack crops

MORNEI (18 November 2011) - Shepherd militants [i.e., armed nomadic pastoralists, from which Khartoum has drawn its militias] in West Darfur’s Mornei region destroyed large areas of farms in the locality by letting their livestock graze, sources told Radio Dabanga on Friday [including a sheikh (leader) of the Mornei camp].

[Mornei is 15 miles south of the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

Army attacks youth in West Darfur

MORNEI (20 November 2011) - Three youngsters injured and four arrested in a racist attack Three youngsters were seriously injured and four others arrestedin West Darfur’s Mornei refugee camp, after the Sudanese army raided a youth club on Saturday. A witness told Radio Dabanga that an army vehicle opened fireon the youth camp which left two youngsters – Abdul Malik Ahmad Ali, YasserAwad seriously injured.

[Mornei is 15 miles south of the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

•1 killed, 6 critically injured in camp looting by Abu Tira

ZamZam camp (1 December 2011) - Camp population in shock as Central Reserve Forces beat and shoot at displaced people Aseyid Abdullah Abdalbannat was shot dead in ZamZam camp by a group of people belonging to the Central Reserve Forces, also known as Abu Tira, according to local witnesses.

•Abu Tira forces continue abuse

EL FASHER (1 December 2011) - Refugees in Zamzam camp allege that extortion and looting have become an everyday occurrence Abu Tira, or central reserve, forces continued violations against refugees from North Darfur’s Zamzam camp on Thursday, sources residing in the camp told Radio Dabanga. Thursday’s events come after Abu Tira forces were accused of killing one refugee and injuring six others in Zamzam camp on Tuesday.

•Abu Tira injures ZamZam displaced

ZamZam camp (9 December 2012) - The displaced Hater Mansour Tabor was purposely targeted during an attack by the Central Reserve Forces, also known as Abu Tira. According to witnesses from the ZamZam Camp for displaced people where the incident happened, a member of the Abu Tira forces started attacking the house of a displaced and threatening his family.

•Hundreds of livestock looted in North Darfur

El Fasher (14 December) - On Monday, pro-government militias traveling in Land Cruisers were reported as having looted the villages of Muhammad Ali, Durma, Jaraf and Jamah, close to El Fasher, a witness told Radio Dabanga.

•More violence in Zalingei IDP camp

Zalingei (16 December 2011) - On Wednesday two IDPs were killed in Hamidiya camp in Zalingei. Local militias set on fire some of the shelters, the source told Radio Dabanga. Two elderly men named Mohammed (82) and Adam Idris (73) tried to put the fires out to rescue the shelters. They were shot on the spot by the militias.

[Zalingei is 50 miles from the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

•Abu Tira personnel abuse refugees

EL FAHSER (25 November 2011) - Abu Tira forces assaulted and looted refugees from North Darfur’s Zamzam camp on Monday, witnesses told Radio Dabanga. A group of Abu Tira members allegedly assaulted Mohamed Adam Tahir Sharaf al-Din and Elmurdi Bakheet Dakam -- refugees who live in Zamzam camp. A witness told Radio Dabanga that about 18 Abu Tira personnel driving a car at nine on Wednesday evening

•Farmers complain of herders’ invasion

EL FASHER (11 November 2011) - Farmers across all Darfur states complained to Radio Dabanga on Friday about their farms being invaded by herders. Radio Dabanga spoke to farmers from Kutum and Kabkabiya in North Darfur; Garsila, Fora Baranga and Mornei in West Darfur as well as Marshinj, El Malam and Shareiya in South Darfur.

[Mornei is 15 miles south of the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

•Omda shot dead in West Darfur

BAIDA (25 November 2011) - Unidentified men unload six bullets causing immediate death Two gunmen killed omda Ibrahim Yagoub Sumi in West Darfur’s Baida county on Wednesday. A witness from the region said that the omda was on his way from Baida to the village of Awair Radu which lies about 5 km from Baida on his motorcycle when two armed men kidnapped him. The incident occurred on the road east of Hai Elmashtal near Baida police station. The assailants forced him off his bike and emptied their guns on him which led to his immediate death.

[Baida is about miles southwest of the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

•Abu Tira forces loot refugees

EL FASHER (4 November 2011) - Witnesses say all the purchases they made in preparation of Eid al-Adha were taken away. A group of central reserve police, better known as Abu Tira, personnel looted refugees near North Darfur's Zamzam camp on Thursday, sources told Radio Dabanga.

Armed militias seize farms near Garsila, West Darfur

Garsila (19 July 2011) - Radio Dabanga was informed by a female refugee that displaced women from Garsila, West Darfur, are currently complaining about armed militias who apparently seized their farms, thus preventing their cultivation. The witness indicated that a group of the militia went to the Gedo, Gallinja and Gang Kosi areas ...

[Garsila is about 60 miles south of the NYT dateline of Nyuru---ER]

Representative attacks from earlier in 2011:

•Village burned near Shangil Tobaya

SHANGIL TOBAYA (25 May 2011) - A village two kilometers east of Shangil Tobaya in eastern Darfur was attacked and burned Sunday evening. Armed men on 16 camels attacked the village Um Dubai. They burnt the village and woundedthe resident Mohammed Siddig. They robbed the people of the village of theircattle and possessions. More than 1,500 people have fled Abu Delik to Zam Zam camp following events last week. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga around 230households, comprising of 1,500 mostly women, children and elderly citizens, aswell as a large number of injured people arrived to the camp on Monday and Tues. They said Abu Tira forces prevented the displaced citizens from entering the camp until Monday evening. The families are now living out in the open with no shelter, or access to water, food or medicine. A witness appealed to government authorities and humanitarian organisations to provide urgently needed food and water, and for UNAMID to protect those villagers that have not yet arrived to the camp from Abu Tira and security forces.

•Militiamen kill 16 Zaghawa in North Darfur after recovering looted livestock KHARTOUM (June 11, 2011) - Militiamen loyal to the Sudanese government in Darfur last week executed 16 people belonging to the Zaghawa ethnic group when they attempted to recover their stolen livestock, a rights group has said.Militiamen led by Ibrahim Abu Dur, one of the pro-government militia leaders, on1 June looted some 700 head of livestock from Zaghawa villages of Laminah, Terling, Hella Sheikh Khatir, and Abu Zeriga, near Shangil Tobaya in NorthDarfur. A group of villagers who managed to trap the looters was arrested by theSudanese army and militiamen after recovering two hundred of the stolen livestockand were on their way back to Laminah and Terling villages.

•Abu Tira militia involved in 'massacre' in Darfur's far south

BURAM (26 June 2011) - A story of a fresh massacre has come out from a remote area in the far south of Darfur. Members of the government's Central Reserve Force [i.e., the Abu Tira] involved in a spate of tribal fighting in the area are accused by a tribal leader of attacking a group of Habbaniya tribesman, killing 23. The Habbaniya are an Arabic-speaking tribe of pastoralists living in the region between Darfur and Bahr El Ghazal.

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, 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.

Ethnic Culling in Sudan

By Eric Reeves

February 22, 2012 (SSNA) -- In response to the secession of South Sudan, the northern country now known simply as Sudan has decided upon a draconian solution: it will deny citizenship to all in the North who are judged, on a purely ethnic basis, to be "southerners."The National Islamic Front/National Congress Party (NIF/NCP) regime has not yet clarified the terms for alien residency, but they will be deeply discriminatory, as the regime's behavior long has been. During the long civil war (1983-2005), more than 2 million people fled north, to what they had hoped would be safety and opportunity, and many remain---700,000 according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). A great many of these people---most of them, according to some estimates---were born in the North and have never lived in the South.

For the men who rule the capital of Khartoum, it does not matter that these people meet the traditional international criteria for citizenship (birth, long residence, property ownership, pension rights). The regime is determined to proceed with what will be nothing less than a comprehensive ethnic culling of the population in the North. And it will begin soon: April 8 has been set as the deadline for "southerners" to leave or establish residency under terms not yet specified. Many will simply be expelled, though many who wish to leave and escape growing persecution will have no means of transportation; indeed, the IOM has declared that such a massive deportation program is "impossible," far beyond any available logistical capacity. Khartoum has exacerbated the problem by denying further barge traffic on the White Nile, as well as other means of transport. Moreover, the rainy season begins in just over a month in the South, which will make many roads impassible.

The international community should not be asking how to assist the Khartoum regime in this programmatic ethnic culling, but rather how to protect those who are subject to such a flagrant contravention of international norms and humanitarian law. Sarnata Reynolds of Refugees International put the matter in appropriate terms, calling Khartoum’s plan "intolerable":

"First, the individuals targeted by this plan have a legitimate claim to Sudanese citizenship, since most have lived in Sudan their entire lives, and there is currently no way for them to apply for South Sudanese citizenship. Second, forcing men, women and children into deportation camps and shipping them off to a country that many have never seen would be a legal and moral disaster."

Khartoum knows perfectly well, as does the international community, that forcing hundreds of thousands of "southerners" to move to the South will come as a number of other humanitarian crises are reaching a crescendo of destructive potential on both sides of the North-South border. This "repatriation" occurs amid an already massive displacement: some 110,000Dinka Ngok remain displaced from the border region of Abyei. Tens of thousands have fled the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan (on the northern side of the border) to South Sudan's Unity state; many additional tens of thousands have fled from Blue Nile to Upper Nile state; and many more tens of thousands have fled to Ethiopia. The UN estimates that it needs $145 million to respond to these population displacements alone, and this says nothing about the immense needs within Blue Nile and South Kordofan, where many hundreds of thousands of people have been internally displaced or are in desperate need. Meanwhile, Khartoum continues to deny all international humanitarian relief.

Those forced to return to the South are likely to have few of the resources necessary to resume agricultural livelihoods, and they will be arriving in a country that is already desperately struggling with food shortages. Valerie Amos, the UN's chief humanitarian official, recently warned that "the situation in [South Sudan] as a whole is extremely precarious, and the risk of a dangerous decline is very real." All this is compounded by military actions that largely destroyed the fall harvest of sorghum in both Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains. In the Nuba, late spring planting was also disrupted by indiscriminate aerial attacks on civilians and their agriculture, bombing that continues to the present.

Of course Khartoum knows a good deal about exacerbating humanitarian crises, as we saw during the terrible famine in Bahr el-Ghazal in 1998, during the humanitarian blockade of the Nuba in the 1990s, and during the civil war in the South, when Khartoum regularly denied virtually all access to Operation Lifeline Sudan, which served millions of people. In Darfur Khartoum has for eight years manipulated and denied humanitarian relief in immensely destructive fashion. It's hardly surprising that, following the southern self-determination referendum in January 2011, Khartoum closed many border-crossing areas to the South, thus halting the movement of food and other items and contributing to severe food shortages.

The NIF/NCP's indifference to human suffering and destruction, and willingness to manipulate humanitarian issues for military or diplomatic advantage, betrays its deep and abiding racism, reflected in the long and ugly history of regime-condoned slavery in Sudan. A 2003 study by the Rift Valley Institute identified, by name, more than 10,000 taken into slavery from Northern Bahr el-Ghazal and Warrap state. The total actually enslaved was undoubtedly much greater, and thousands of people from these regions remain enslaved in the North to this day.

The regime's indifference also derives from a religious zealotry that those attempting to serve as negotiating intermediaries with the regime mostly fail to recognize, despite mounting evidence of intolerance. In Khartoum there has been a marked increase in threats and attacks against churches, priests, and Christians of all denominations. Those perceived as Christians ("southerners") are often forcibly conscripted by press gangs working for renegade militias that operate, with Khartoum’s support, in South Sudan. It is not surprising that the NIF/NCP appears to be contemplating another name change, as reported by the resourceful Sudan Tribune:"Karam Allah Abbas, governor of Gadaref state and head of the National Congress Party in the eastern Sudan province, disclosed that there is a trend within the ruling party to change its name to Hizbollah (Party of God)."

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir made clear that he would purge the North of non-Arab and non-Islamic elements during the southern self-determination referendum over a year ago.

"'If south Sudan secedes, 'he told the Guardian, 'we will change the constitution, and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity ... sharia and Islam will be the main source for the constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language.'"

While the world sees these developments as threatening vast human catastrophe, Khartoum sees only diplomatic or military advantage---an opportunity to further weaken South Sudan, with an eye to military seizure of southern territory in the oil regions. Certainly the regime is well aware of---and in fact intends---the consequences of compelling hundreds of thousands of "southerners" to flee into an already tumultuous, unstable, and deeply threatening environment.

Perhaps this deliberate distress inflicted on South Sudan is meant to create diplomatic leverage in settling the dispute over oil revenues, where Khartoum's negotiating brinksmanship has backfired and compelled the South to shutdown all oil production. But exacerbating humanitarian crises is unlikely to change the views of the southern leadership. The more likely explanation is that this is all to make the South more vulnerable to military incursions of the sort we have seen this past week at Jau, and in relentless aerial bombardment of sovereign southern territory.

If conflict resumes in greater Sudan, it will be waged largely as a war of attrition in which humanitarian needs are simply used as another weapon---and great numbers of civilians will die. It will, in short, be like all wars waged by this regime. And it will be a war that legitimizes ethnic culling as a weapon of mass destruction.

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, 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.

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