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Mortality in South Sudan…and Darfur: Why Is No One Counting?

By Eric Reeves A startling title from an Agence France-Presse dispatch tells us too much about attitudes and capacity in South Sudan: "50,000 and not counting; South Sudan's war dead" (15 November 2014):

November 16, 2014 (SSNA) -- Missing from the conflict is a clear death toll, as nobody—not even United Nations peacekeepers—has been keeping count. The International Crisis Group (ICG), a conflict think-tank, estimates at least 50,000 people have already died but it admits the true figure could even be double that. It also says the failure to count the dead is a scandal—both as a dishonour to the victims and as something that has kept the country's suffering off the international radar. [The entire text appears below as Appendix One; all emphases in all quoted text has been addedER]

This "failure to count the dead" is indeed a scandal, and for precisely the reasons ICG indicates: this failure "dishonours the victims" and "has kept the country's suffering off the international radar." If in fact some 100,000 South Sudanese have died, we should know this—and it should make a difference in shaking the conscience of the international community. This is especially true given how tenuous the humanitarian situation remains, how close to famine the country remains, and how an upsurge in fighting this dry season could bring catastrophic mortality.

Mortality in Darfur

But Darfur represents an even more egregious failure to count the dead. And this failure ultimately bespeaks a kind of contempt, not merely a dishonoring of the dead. The last official UN figure on mortality in Darfur was offered in April 2008 by John Holmes, then UN Under-secretary for Humanitarian Affairs: 300,000 dead. But this was not the result of a mortality analysis, new data, or new studies; a BBC account of the press interview in which Holmes announced the figure is revealing:

Mr. Holmes gave the revised total to a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York. Sudan disputes the figure, saying 10,000 are now known to have died. The previous figure of 200,000 came from a 2006 study by the World Health Organisation. It included those killed in the fighting itself as well as people who died from disease and malnutrition because of the conflict. The 2006 figure "must be much higher now—perhaps as much as half again," Mr. Holmes said. He said the new total was an extrapolation from the previous figure and was not based on a new study. ("Darfur deaths 'could be 300,000," 23 April 2008)

Shortly after the WHO report was released in 2006, I asked a senior UN official deeply involved with preparation of the report when he expected another mortality study would be conducted. His response? "Never!" The hostility of the Khartoum regime to the WHO efforts of 2005 and 2006 had been so great, so threatening that it would be impossible to imagine conducting any further studies, he informed me. And so there have been none. As Holmes stresses in his crude estimate: "the new total was an extrapolation from the previous figure and was not based on a new study."


Darfuris in eastern Chad attempt crude calculations of number of dead, type of violence, location; they are doing more than the UN appears willing to do.

In other words, there has been no statistical or epidemiological effort by the UN to estimate the number of casualties in the Darfur conflict since 2006eight years ago. And the most "recent" estimate—constantly cited by news organizations of all sorts—is six years old and represents nothing more than a crude extrapolation: "The 2006 figure 'must be much higher now—perhaps as much as half again.'"

How many have died in the past six years? How accurate was the UN's 2006 estimate, which lacked a great deal of the data sought? Is Holmes' crude extrapolation—simply increasing the old figure by fifty percent because two years had passed since it was published—reasonable when we are speaking of hundreds of thousands of lives? What the International Crisis Group says about mortality in South Sudan is even more true of Darfur: "the failure to count the dead is a scandal—both as a dishonour to the victims and as something that has kept the country's [Darfur's] suffering off the international radar."

Driven by this sense of our "dishonoring" the victims of the Darfur genocide, I made repeated attempts through August 2010 to gather more data, more reports, more anecdotal evidence, and to devise a more adequate methodology in a situation that resisted all traditional epidemiological mortality techniques. This required at various points making assumptions—always in my view conservative, given what we knew at the time—collating all the data at hand and devising a straightforward methodology that could accommodate all these data. Thus while I was able to incorporate important data from the only other significant mortality study since 2008—that of the Center for Research on the Epidemiology (CRED) in Leuven, Belgium (January 2010). Just as importantly, I was able to incorporate extremely significant data collected and meticulously analyzed by specialists for "Darfurian Voices" in Eastern Chad, July 2010.

[Bibliographic information for the CRED study: Olivier Degomme and Debarati Guha-Sapir, “Patterns of mortality rates in Darfur conflict,” The Lancet, January 23, 2010 (pages 294-300)]

In the course of using data from the report by "Darfurian Voices," I was also able to offer a correction to CRED's gross misrepresentation of violent mortality in the first year of the genocide (particularly February 2003 to August 2003, this on the basis of a widely discredited U.S. State Department document that has been withdrawn from the department's website). While persuasive in its use of very considerable data about death from malnutrition and disease, CRED offers a preposterous figure of 1,000 – 4,500 deaths for the period February 2003 through August 2003. The simple truth is that CRED has no mortality data of any sort in its database for 2003—for any Darfur state—during this, the most violent year of the genocide to date. Other critical weaknesses are outlined in my August 2010 mortality study, a key section of which appears below as Appendix Two). Lacking data for 2003, the authors play fast and loose with their timeline and whether 2003 appears in the language of the study (sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't). They wanted the period covered to run from 2003 – 2008; but without data for 2003, this is nonsense.

[When I questioned author Guha-Sapir at a conference on Darfur (Rockefeller Institute, Bellagio, April 2012), she was unable to explain the critical dating problems I pointed out.]

My own study was the culmination of a dozen previous efforts addressing the question of human mortality in Darfur and eastern Chad (omitted entirely by the CRED study). In my view, based on all extant research and data, the number of dead in August 2010 was very approximately 500,000 (as likely to be higher as lower). I have been unable to find any but anecdotal reporting subsequently, and nothing that would allow me to update the August 2010 finding in a significant way. We do know, however, from many reports by Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune, that casualties of war have been enormous, not only from violence—military assaults, murder, continuing displacement, and brutal rapes that are too often fatal, especially for younger girls—but as in the early years of the genocide, from mortality that is the consequence of that violence and violent displacement, including malnutrition, dehydration, and disease (from the very beginning of the Darfur conflict, displacement and violence have correlated extremely highly).

Where is the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations?

Over the past four years tens of thousands of Darfuris have died as a consequence of what has become "genocide by attrition." But we have no idea about how many tens of thousands have died. For the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has proved itself hopelessly inadequate in reporting on rape, mortality, aerial bombardment of civilian targets, and many others forms of violence that have made Darfur today more insecure than at any time since the early yeas of the violence that began over a decade ago. And while the African Union, particularly the leaders of UNAMID and the African Union Peace and Security Council, is most culpable on the ground, it is the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations that must bear primary responsibility in allowing the international community to view UNAMID as somehow a functioning peacekeeping force. It is not—and Hervé Ladsous, head of UN DPKO, deserves a great deal of the blame for not frankly acknowledging the fact. He has not made clear enough, to either the Secretariat or the Security Council, the scale of UNAMID's failures, even as UNAMID will go down in UN peacekeeping history as the largest, most expensive, and least effective operation to date.

Ladsous is of course aware of the failures that have been regularly reported. He is aware that the recent UN report on UNAMID's failings—prompted by the shocking disclosures of reporting failures by former UNAMID spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri—is a whitewash, that finds no serious culpability in the reporting by UNAMID. And Ladsous is also aware that the whitewash was necessary to protect him and UN DPKO generally, since UNAMID is a "hybrid" UN and AU effort, with personnel wearing the symbolic UN blue helmets and all vehicles and aircraft marked "UN."

The senior UN official who told me years ago that the UN would not feel safe conducting further studies of mortality in Darfur has certainly been vindicated by the performance of UNAMID, which cannot protect itself, let alone the people of Darfur who live in an environment of terrifying insecurity—or even report honestly, as the recent account of the Tabit rapes reveals. The UNAMID press release [November 10] declares, evidently without shame or hesitation:

None of those interviewed confirmed that any incident of rape took place in Tabit on the day of that media report. The team neither found any evidence nor received any information regarding the media allegations during the period in question. [Incredibly, no mention is made in the press release of the extraordinarily heavy military and security presence during the UNAMID investigation, or the obvious intimidation that had preceded the investigators' arrival a week after they first sought entry—or the fact that this was ample time in which to sanitize the crime scene and ensure that all necessary intimidation had occurred—ER]

But why is UNAMID allowed to continue in its present disastrous ways? Here the answer lies in New York, not el-Fasher. UN DPKO simply refuses to speak honestly about the failings of the mission, its immensely consequential lack of reporting, and its refusal to intervene to protect civilians—and the vanishingly small likelihood that things will improve. The solution offered by Ladsous in late April 2012 was to declare that UNAMID could be drawn down because security in Darfur had improvedhe made this claim even as violence was sharply escalating, and has continued to do so. His was apparently a desperately expedient and disingenuous attempt to reduce the cost of UNAMID to UN DPKO, tacit recognition of the mission's failing. His assessment of "conditions on the ground" (Ladsous' phrase) could not possibly have been so ill-informed. A year later Ladsous again simply lied again, declaring that UNAMID "has the inherent robustness to deal with the situation" in Darfur" (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], July 2013). Everything we knew then and now about UNAMID contradicts this claim, and yet because it is made by the head of UN Peacekeeping Operations it stands unchallenged in the Security Council and the Secretariat. This is appalling deception and makes real improvement in the security conditions in Darfur impossible.

If UNAMID won't report or speak honestly, if UN DPKO is more interested in reducing costs and deflecting blame, where does that leave us in addressing the question of mortality in Darfur?   Given the gross and mutually self-serving expediency of UNAMID and UN DPKO, it is unlikely that the world will see any time soon—if ever—the counting of the hundreds of thousands of Darfuris "dishonored" in their deaths.

APPENDIX ONE: 50,000 and not counting: South Sudan's war dead

(Agence France-Presse [Nairobi] 15 November 2014)

When gunfire shattered the silence of a December evening last year in South Sudan's capital Juba, initial reports pointed to several dozen rival soldiers dead. In the following days, gunfire and explosions continued to shake the city, as troops loyal to President Salva Kiir fought it out with those allied to his ousted deputy, Riek Machar, and terrified residents cowered in their homes and independent observers kept indoors under curfew.  Witnesses reported soldiers going door-to-door, as members of Kiir's Dinka tribe hunted down ethnic Nuer, the people of Machar. At night, bodies were discreetly trucked out of the city and burned or buried, witnesses and human rights groups say.

"We estimate as many as 5,000 people died in Juba during that first week alone. After that, it's been the same kind of thing over and over again in other towns. In some places, people have been there to count, in others, not at all," said one Western aid worker, who asked that his name nor that of his organization be published due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Eleven months on and South Sudan is still locked in civil war, with the killings in Juba having set off a cycle of retaliatory killings across large swathes of the country. Both Kiir's forces and rebels loyal to Machar have been accused of widespread atrocities — massacres, gang rapes and child soldier recruitment—that have seen the country teeter on the brink of genocide. But missing from the conflict is a clear death toll, as nobody—not even United Nations peacekeepers—has been keeping count.

The International Crisis Group (ICG), a conflict think-tank, estimates at least 50,000 people have already died but it admits the true figure could even be double that. It also says the failure to count the dead is a scandal — both as a dishonour to the victims and as something that has kept the country's suffering off the international radar. 

"It's shocking that in 2014, in a country with one of the largest UN peacekeeping missions in the world, tens of thousands of people can be killed and no one can even begin to confirm the death toll," ICG researcher Casie Copeland told AFP.  "Surely more can be done to understand whether the figure is closer to 50,000 or 1,00,000?"  Instead, she argues, the South Sudanese are victims of a process of "appalling dehumanization"—the result being a lack of "concerted action to end the war."

"Counting the dead goes beyond understanding the scale of this devastating war, it honours those who have been lost and is a minimum form of respect to the tens of thousands of South Sudanese who have been killed." Akshaya Kumar of the Enough Project, a genocide prevention campaign group, stressed the need to create accountability with clear numbers in order to "counter the widespread belief that combatants have immunity in South Sudan."  "It's an imperfect science but in other countries, such as Syria, the UN has done a much better job of tracking the numbers of civilians killed than in South Sudan," added Skye Wheeler from Human Rights Watch.

"Alongside more vigorous reporting on human rights abuses, public estimates would have shed light on the violence and the extent of abuse, and helped put pressure on both sides to end abusive tactics." The reality in South Sudan, however, has been the polar opposite: without any apparent fear of the consequences, armed groups have shot and gang raped patients in their hospital beds, massacred civilians in churches, machine-gunned fleeing civilians in swamps — leaving their bodies to rot, be carried away by the Nile river or be consumed by its crocodiles.

Tens of thousands more are feared to have died from hunger and disease in isolated villages, swamps and bush beyond the reach of aid agencies.  The UN peacekeeping mission to South Sudan, UNMISS, says they are unable to provide "a reasonably precise estimate of the casualty toll", saying only that "thousands" have been killed.  The 14,000-strong peacekeeping mission said in a statement that it "doesn't have a presence in every single county in South Sudan, so it is impossible to provide a comprehensive and independently verifiable number."

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also admits it has "unfortunately ... not been collecting information on the number of deaths since the crisis broke out" — although it does track those still alive, notably the 3.8 million people in need of aid and the 1.91 million people displaced. "If the UN is able to estimate with such precision the number of displaced, it is inexplicable that they cannot similarly monitor those killed," the ICG's Copeland said.

As the body counters opt out of South Sudan's civil war, a group of South Sudanese civil society activists are trying to step in — launching the "Naming Those We Lost" project to try and name the dead. But they have a long way to go — having so far confirmed around a thousand names.  "It's a vital step to recognizing the collective loss," said project organizer Anyieth D'Awol. "The lack of justice, accountability and acknowledgement of losses suffered by people has fuelled the current conflict."


A response to the findings of CRED researchers Olivier Degomme and Debarati Guha-Sapir, “Patterns of mortality rates in Darfur conflict,” The Lancet, January 23, 2010 (pages 294-300,

From: QUANTIFYING GENOCIDE: Darfur Mortality Update, 6 August 2010 |

Very usefully, many of…smaller-scale mortality reports have been extracted, collected, and analyzed by Olivier Degomme and Debarati Guha-Sapir… Their account draws in particular on the “Complex Emergency Database” ( ) of the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). While excluding from its estimates of violent mortality any consideration of the [Coalition for International Justice study commissioned by the US State Department, August – September 2004] their study offers important conclusions about deaths from disease and malnutrition that are likely to be approximately right, though excluding mortality in eastern Chad as well as mortality from the period February 2003 to “early 2004″ (see below for discussion of this critical lacuna).

This highly technical paper, statistically of enormous potential richness, offers some very clear conclusions: the authors “estimate the excess number of deaths in Darfur to be 298,271 (95% Confidence Interval, 178,258 - 461,520 [i.e., the high-end mortality figure that must be included to achieve their 95% confidence interval—ER, 16 November 2014] in the time period “from early 2004 to the end of 2008″ (N.B. the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem). Of these approximately 300,000 excess deaths, they argue that “more than 80% of the excess deaths were not as a result of the violence” but from “diseases such as diarrhoea,” at least on the basis of the numerous studies archived at CRED’s “Complex Emergency Database.” This yields a figure of roughly 240,000 deaths from disease (which presumably includes the effects of malnutrition, which has in various times and places in Darfur been extremely high), and a corresponding figure of roughly 60,000 deaths from violence in the period “from early 2004 to the end of 2008."

Unfortunately, Degomme and Guha-Sapir seem incapable of recognizing the direct connection between deaths from disease and malnutrition and the antecedent violence that was responsible for these deaths—this is so even as they speak abstractly of “excess deaths.” Indeed, they seem to have only a very superficial knowledge of Darfur and the nature of the conflict, as well as key date markers. But of course the deaths they speak of are “excessive” because of the genocidal violence that created the conditions in which people died of malnutrition and disease. And there is nothing abstract about this brutal violence. For the moment, however, we may ignore this peculiar myopia.

In the course of their study, the authors explain their limitations. They have not included mortality in Chad (again, 57,250 people killed according to data from “Darfurian Voices,” in addition to victims of disease and malnutrition). They have not included mortality from December 2008 to the present. But even more tellingly they confess that, “Another constraint was that we could not identify any survey that included the first few months of the conflict before the deterioration in September, 2003.” [Their suggestion that the conflict "deteriorated" in September 2003 seriously misrepresents the escalation of violence following the successful raid on el-Fasher air base in April 2003, the precipitating event in launching the Janjaweed militia forces in a campaign of wholesale civilian destruction, targeting non-Arab or African villages—ER, 16 November 2014]

In fact, there are no mortality studies at all for Darfur for the year 2003 in CRED’s “Complex Emergency Database”: entering this year and any of the three Darfur states into the site’s search engine yields only the message, “No entries found, please try broaden your search parameters.” This is why Degomme and Guha-Sapir’s narrative indicates that the period actually represented by their conclusions is January or February 2004 to December 2008, not February 2003, when conflict actually begins in earnest: “298,271 (95% Confidence Interval, 178,258 - 461,520)” excess deaths in the time period “from early 2004 to the end of 2008.” (Tellingly, the authors do not specify precisely what is meant by “early 2004.”)

This delimitation of time period is highly significant. In excluding the period from February 2003 to “early 2004″—an approximately yearlong period of extraordinary violent mortality, as well as highly significant mortality from other causes—the authors leave out an essential part of the global mortality picture with almost no acknowledgement. Of the half-year period from February 2003 to August 2003 (“phase 1 in their Panel 1) they say only: “not included in any retrospective survey, and mortality data should therefore be estimated by other techniques.”

The truth is that they have not identified any Darfur mortality study for any months in 2003. Even so, Degomme and Guha-Sapir push on to offer what is a transparently untenable figure from the US State Department for this critically omitted period of time (“February [2003] to August 2003″): “between 1,000 4,500 deaths” (from all causes).

In fact, this figure is an erroneous citation by the authors: the State Department “fact sheet” (“Sudan: Death Toll in Darfur,” March 25, 2005)—as originally promulgated on the State Department website—found that “4,100 - 8,800 excess deaths are estimated to have occurred primarily in North and West Darfur [during the period March September 2003].” Notably, though unsurprisingly, Degomme and Guha-Sapir do not cite the URL for this State Department estimate; rather they cite the tendentious U.S. Government Accounting Office report on mortality studies that cites this four-page “fact sheet.” The inability to cite the URL for the document in question derives from the fact that the State Department removed this statistical travesty from its website ( is now a dead link). But at the time of its initial distribution I analyzed in detail ( the “fact sheet’s” numerous methodological problems, its highly consequential factual errors, the lack of citation or statistical analysis, and a consistent disingenuousness (I accessed the document from the State Department website on April 23, 2005 at the now defunct URL).

Critically for present purposes, Degomme and Guha-Sapir leave ambiguous whether there are relevant mortality studies or considerations for the period between September 2003 and January 2004, this despite their subsequent parceling out of various “phases of the Darfur conflict,” including “September 2003 to March 2004" (“phase 2″ of Panel 1—again, N.B. the terminus ad quem for this “phase”). In their statistical analysis for this period they indicate “excess deaths” of “45,137 (95% Confidence Interval, 27,320 to 73,380).” But it remains unclear what data were used for September 2003 through the end of December 2003: again, there is nothing in CRED’s “Complex Emergency Database.” Nor is it clear what data was used to calculate violent mortality for the period January 2004 to their “March 2004″ endpoint for “phase 2…”

Let us be clear about the significance of the figure “1,000 4,500″ deaths—from all causes—in the period February 2003 through August 2003 (by which time Khartoum had substantially deployed its Janjaweed militias, as well as its regular military forces, in genocidal destruction). It is simply preposterous and has no justification in fact or data. Degomme and Guha-Sapir conclude that total excess mortality in Darfur is 298,271 “from early 2004 to the end of 2008.” But by a tawdry statistical sleight-of-hand, this time-frame is disingenuously expanded by almost a year to become “about 300,00″ “between March 2003 and December 2008.” A year that includes some of the greatest violent mortality in the Darfur genocide (February 2003 to “early 2004) is brought within their final estimate and time-frame on the basis of a completely vitiated State Department “fact sheet,” which purportedly supports an estimate of “between 1,000 - 4,500 deaths” in this time period.

Eric Reeves' book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 - 2012;; review commentary at:

IGAD Complicity Towards South Sudan Peace Negotiations in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia

By: Chuol R. Kompuok, PhD

November 13, 2014 (SSNA) -- The South Sudan’s 11—month old conflict pitting the Nuer dominated opposition forces aligned with Dr. Riek Machar, the former vice president, against the Dinka dominated forces under Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of South Sudan, has its historical roots dating back to May 2008, especially when the South Sudan was at the brink of war during the 2nd SPLM National Liberation Convention held in Juba.  The National Liberation Council members, including delegates from the ten states, were bribed to the teeth by the president and his cronies, inter alia, the late Dr. Justin Yac Arop and Lt. Gen. Dominic Dim Deng, to oust Dr. Riek Machar. As a matter of fact there was no single stone left unturned to ensure meticulous elimination of Dr. Riek Machar. Pagan Amum, the then Secretary General of the SPLM was brain washed to the core, admitting to oust his comrade Machar without knowing he was also part of the plan to be exited out, together with Dr. Riek Machar. Pagan uncovered the plan at the last minute when people were in the middle of the convention and became so mad at his principal, Salva Kiir. Miraculously without human interference God worked in opposite direction. The two architects boarded the same plane to Warrap, in order to mobilize the National Liberation Council members from the Region, against Dr. Riek Machar but technically, the architects perished on May 3, 2008 on their way back to Juba before the National Convention kicked off.

Given all the odds surrounding the plane crash the rhetoric of the long-term plan of elbowing out the former vice chairman of the SPLM in the National Liberation Convention never changed course. The president of the South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit, has always been relentlessly busy digging grave to burry alive his vice chairman, Dr. Riek Machar, who was by then busy negotiating CPA outstanding issues, between Khartoum and Juba. Although the plans to oust Dr. Riek Machar were dormant for a while, Kiir’s group never abandoned it all together but was picked up by those of Paul Malong Awan. This is how the mobilization began in the two states (Aweil and Warrap) by none other than Paul Malong. However, Kiir’s plans never come to realization until December 15, 2013 dubbed as the Nuer Massacre in Juba. The intention was to accomplish the failed project of Dr. Justin Yac, the main architect, who at one point in time said before his demise “the prophetic Ngundeng Thak made of clay, we the Dinka shall stumble on crashing it to the ashes if the Nuer tended to believe what the prophet Ngundeng said long time ago to get the leftover from Ngundeng Thak”. According to the notorious Dr. Justin Yac all of us shall benefit nothing out of it, leading to the so-called zero sum game.

Now that the war long planned to wipe out the Nuer, who are supporters of Dr. Riek changed its ugly face, and is currently consuming the whole nation of South Sudan—a circumstance that was not foreseen by the architects of Juba Massacre. It seems that Kiir’s group is surprising about the dimension the war has taken as it has taken an unprecedented turn. Since the project seems to be long overdue, the mobilization of resources and manpower from within and across the region took a couple of years to make it a reality in December 2013. The participation of the UPDF, JEM and SPLM-N in fighting the war of South Sudan against the Nuer and other South Sudanese sympathetic to the cause is the clear indication that Salva Kiir planned the Massacre of Nuer and the invasion of their land for the last 9 years or so. Enough preparation were made to rally behind his government the regional leaders from East and the Horn of Africa making the undergoing negotiations difficult for the IGAD coupled with the packages each countries involved receiving.

The current peace negotiation that is taking place in Ethiopia capital Addis Ababa from January 23, 2014 until now brokered by the IGAD between the government of South Sudan and the SPLA/M—IO appears to be a direct insult to the Nuer and South Sudanese intelligentsia. There is no clear distinction between Salva Kiir and the IGAD, but only invisible a line separating the two who are negotiating the peace deal. In this line of argument Salva Kiir and IGAD heads of state are one and the same. How credible is the outcome of the peace deal entrusted in IGAD and the heads of state by the UN, the Troika and other world bodies?  In all accounts, there are no negotiations of winner takes it all but fair game of win-win circumstance of the contemporary world practice. In the fair game of contemporary negotiations, a middle ground is reached based on the number of concessions given up by the parties involved in the actual confrontations. The East Africa regional bloc (IGAD) and heads of state complicity towards achieving negotiated settlement to South Sudan conflict is a clear signaling of heavy baggage each country faces. For IGAD’s heads of state to tell the truth about the Juba incident and the crime committed against the people of South Sudan is signing arrest warrant for oneself and declaring war against his/her own government.

The war that killed tens of thousands Nuer in particular and South Sudanese in general has so many dimensions and each dimensions will be treated accordingly;

Military dimension

As a matter of fact the military strength president Salva Kiir Mayardit tended to believe in emanates from support receiving from neighboring countries including UPDF of Uganda, Sudanese rebels groups (SPLM-N, JEM etc..), Ethiopia through contribution of ammunitions and other hardware, and Kenya. But until how long will Salva Kiir put all his eggs in one basket for the regional support militarily? Are all these countries benevolent enough to support Salva Kiir government without any future returns? Uganda as prime supporter of government of South Sudan to maintain the status quo was to advance its proxy war with the Sudan considered to have harbored the dissidents of Uganda using South Sudan soil as a launching pad. According to Uganda government once South Sudanese rebels are flashed out, the other armed forces of Gen. Konyi are out of equation and the problem of Uganda directly or indirectly is solved. Published by NEW VISION Kampala on October 15, 2014, South Sudanese government has signed a long-term military cooperation with Uganda to purchase weapons and military hardware on behalf of South Sudan government in event that arms embargo is imposed on South Sudan government. The world body should watch out with open eye of the dirty game played by two countries Uganda and South Sudan. In case the war continuous as it stands now and when arms embargo is imposed on South Sudan, Uganda should not be exempted. All the treaties and the forced agreements entered into between South Sudan and Uganda implied threat to the national sovereignty of South Sudan that in a sense undermine the co-existence and the peace of the people. Uganda has done irreparable damage, derailing the integrity of the people of South Sudan a major blast forever.

Ethiopia on one hand support Salva Kiir government due to fear of other armed groups against the EPRDF government expected to have used the South Sudan soil for their operations. However, Salva Kiir government appear to be playing double standards of harboring Ethiopian peoples’ enemies mainly the Egyptians who are against the Ethiopia Grand Renaissance Dam (EGRD) construction, some of them were caught in the Gadiang operation in Ayod county. Ethiopia has long been friend to South Sudanese people in all the liberation movements where most of the Ethiopian generals currently advising the SPLA and its leadership running from the signing of the CPA in 2005. Not to forget mentioning the important element, the Derg Regime of Mengistu Hailemariam supported the SPLA/M in fighting the Arab based northern regime in Khartoum rooted to the brotherhood the Ethiopians and South Sudanese particularly the Nuer since humankind creation. The natural laws state that “blood is thicker than the water” is totally violated in the South Sudan current civil war forcing the Ethiopian government to Support the Dinka dominated government neglecting their own brothers (the Nuer) due to wealth creation. Similar violation of the laws took place in the early formation of the SPLA/M in 1983 when the separatists led by Samuel Gai Tut and Kuot de Atem were dislodged in Bilpam by team of Dr. Garang de Mabior with the Marxist—Leninist ideology. The unionists who wanted the Sudan remain united were backed by the defunct Regime of Mengistu to fight the Anyanya II forces opposed to socialist ideology. Despite all the concessions, both Uganda and Ethiopia exploit the weaknesses of South Sudan military leadership to maintaining the status quo without further studying the strength and the benefits they would have gained if the rebel movement took over from the incumbent government.

The rebel groups (SPLM-N and JEM) fighting the South Sudanese rebel movement alongside South Sudan government intention was to gain ground for their operations against the Sudanese government. This is to help the rebel groups to have constant supply roots intact without disruption. To some analysts the rebel groups seem to have no agenda for the cause of the people whom they are fighting for to liberate and maintain their existence on the soil of the Republic of Sudan. The moves of rebel groups (SPLM-N and JEM) were wrongly calculated without considering cost—benefit analysis of waging war against South Sudanese rebel movement. If the intention was to win the war against the Nuer for Salva Kiir first, in order to help fight the Sudan government, then the project cost is too huge for the movement to maintain since Nuer and other South Sudanese will not easily give in to allow the president to manipulate the people whom he killed. Moreover, previous integrations including those of Gen. Tanginya were never respected where Tanginya ended up in the concentration camp for more than one year.  Tanginya got released shortly and only when Salva Kiir fully prepared for December 15, 2013 civil war with the hope that Tanginya would join his camp. The attempt did not work best for Kiir since Gen. Tanginya later on switched side to Dr. Riek Machar, the former vice president camp against the killing of the innocent Nuer.  

Economic dimensions

One would wonder why different countries with their sovereign states involved into the affair of South Sudanese if not for economic interests. Businesses flourish in South Sudan and individual entrepreneurs who set their feet on the South Sudanese soil either through genuine or corrupt ways managed to secure money transferred to their respective countries of origin. To investigate whether the initial capital was brought in for the start up purpose, one would wonder of South Sudan without investment laws that guide the establishment of the domestic and international businesses. There is no surprise when UPDF of Uganda, the Kenya and the Ethiopia got involved in the affairs of South Sudanese without so many questions from the public justifying why they are fighting alongside South Sudan government. In the first place Uganda look at itself as a country safeguarding the strategic installations and infrastructures of South Sudan government as if it’s the main custodian for sovereignty of South Sudan, which is not the case.

The economic interest pushes those countries in question seriously dictating the circumstances surrounding South Sudan’s conflict. One aspect of Uganda involvement into the affair of South Sudan is the quest for the resources among which the encroachment of the Didinga and Toposa land along Ilemi Triangle is the case in point. The Ilemi Triangle is an area of disputed land in East Africa coupled with the oil discovery and grazing land for the pastoralist communities, the area became a recipe for internecine conflict zone for the inhabitant. Arbitrarily defined, it measures between 10,320 and 14,000 square kilometers. Named after the Anyuak chief Ilemi Akwon, the territory is claimed by South Sudan and Kenya as Turkana land and borders Ethiopia considered as land of Nyangatom and also the Karimojong of Uganda. Despite use and raids by tribes within Ethiopia, the Ethiopian government has never made an official claim on any of the Ilemi and in fact agreed that the land was all Sudanese in 1902, 1907, and 1972 treaties.  It is to be noted that Kenya now has de facto control of the area and the concessions are getting bigger and bigger after the discovery of petroleum. The dispute arose from unclear wording of the 1914 treaty, which attempted to allow for the movements of the Turkana people—nomadic herders who traditionally grazed the area. The perceived economic marginality of the land as well as decades of Sudanese conflicts considered as the factors that have delayed the resolution of the dispute. In a nutshell Uganda would have distanced itself from resources competitions along Ilemi Triangle if one studied the previous treaties of 1902, 1907 and 1972 under the auspice of British.

South Sudan has emerged in the recent years as the breadbasket and main importer of Uganda goods and services. Statistics shows that on average about 150,000 Ugandan traders operate across the border, generating an estimated income of about $900 million in petty businesses of sub standards goods and services per year. South Sudan relies heavily on its neighbors to provide goods such as construction materials and services such as semi-skilled and unskilled labor. Approximately 1,500 Ugandans work in South Sudan in the construction industry, and 1,200 Ugandan professionals are employed there with non-governmental organizations, ministries and other industries. The governments of Uganda and South Sudan have taken steps to strengthen economics ties, including a joint project to construct a state-of-the-art market in Juba, estimated to cost around US $850,000.

South Sudan after its birth in 2011 became the dumping ground for all the expired goods and services not necessary for human consumption. The trade between Uganda and South Sudan is more of absolute advantage to the Uganda government since the term of trade for South Sudan is deteriorating or worsening from day to day. Most transnational crime committed by Uganda business people are let loose without South Sudan government taking serious measures against the culprits and hold Uganda government responsible for the crime against humanity. The petty businesses run in Juba and elsewhere in South Sudan are not legally registered and whatever money collected repatriated to Uganda, Kenya, Somali, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and beyond. The stakes in this current conflict are very huge and Uganda never hesitates to take war to South Sudan since it’s the main lifeline for the Ugandan people. Kenya and Ethiopia’s interest in exporting oil through their seaports (Lamu Port and Djibouti port) and roots became another area of contestation and whoever supports Salva Kiir government’s survival be rewarded with pipeline passage through her country and all the proceeds shall be given to in return. The economic integration of South Sudan into East Africa Community (EAC) became the catalyst for South Sudan civil war so that Museveni would have free hand in amassing the wealth into Uganda. A good example is the packages for the UPDF fighting alongside South Sudan government and in returns bolster economic growth of Uganda, which has been steadily stagnating before the birth of South Sudan.

The birth of South Sudan as state of its own, widen the market shares of East Africa Community (EAC) and the Horn of Africa and Uganda stands first in the economic gains. Ostensibly, Uganda has made important progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Uganda has experienced two decades of strong economic growth and poverty has decreased significantly in recent years (from 31% in 2005-06 to 22% by 2012-13), thus surpassing the 2015 MDGs target of halving the 56% poverty rate recorded in 1992-93. However, with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capital of $510 per annum, Uganda remains a very poor country and far from the middle-income status it aspires to achieve. Despite declining poverty rates, the absolute number of poor has decreased relatively little due to high population growth with Uganda’s population doubling since 1990. Inequality is also high by international standards (0.438) with the application of Gini Coefficient (GC), which could undermine the achievements in growth and poverty reduction. Such a trend would more than likely push Uganda meddling into the affairs of South Sudan in particular and some other countries to escape the criticism from within the domestic arena.  

Political dimension

The political relationship between South Sudan and Uganda has been in existence for several decades, different from Kampala’s relationships with Khartoum government, which has often been strained. The main reason for the deteriorated relationship is that Sudan’s president, Omer El Bashir is alleged to have provided support to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which terrorized northern Uganda for many years and Sudan believed that Uganda supported the SPLA, which also terrorized the peace and stability of South Sudan. Uganda’s longtime president, Yoweri Museveni, was a personal friend of South Sudan rebel leader John Garang de Mabior and supported the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which fought for the region’s independence. Before the conduct of the 2011 Referendum Yoweri Museveni made a remarks vocally for separation, saying, “…unity should be principled unity; not unity based on suppression and inequality.”

Yoweri K. Museveni of Uganda champion the leadership of EAC for many decades opposed all the time by the Republic of Tanzania desperately in dire need of allies and South Sudan fresh in politics would be seen as the potential ally to vote vehemently for Uganda’s president. The Nile water politics is another paradigm shift in the current geopolitics and South Sudan as a nascent state plays a key role in determining the future of water politics. The struggle for the ally in view of the Nile water politics bring together Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan as a bloc to revisit the treaties in the past between the British expeditions and ancient Egypt excluding the upper stream countries. In the vein of this argument Egypt sees any country tempering with the Nile Water as the real threat to its national security. Ethiopia with the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam, which the Egyptian government failed to acknowledge, thus sees South Sudan as the potential ally. Egypt on the other hand went ahead and signed a military agreement with South Sudan to supply military hardware to fight the rebel movement as an important binding constraint for the reconstruction of the Jonglei canal to allow the regular passage of swampy waters from the South Sudan to Egypt without disruption in the event that the water level runs down due to Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (EGRD) from the upper stream.

In conclusion, addressing problem of South Sudan, the geopolitics of the Nile water shouldn’t be underestimated while negotiating everlasting solution for South Sudan since most of the countries involved in the negotiation have stakes in what transpired to be peaceful South Sudan given the new political dispensation. The murderous government of Salva Kiir requires tougher action against its inconsistence.  Even if all IGAD’s leaders appear complicit in tackling South Sudan crisis with the intent of conniving with Salva Kiir, they will not be able to quell the rebellion through the presence of their heavy hands in South Sudanese politics. One would expect only genuine negotiations without IGAD’s leaders siding with Salva Kiir government is what will bring peace to South Sudan. Therefore, the policy of hands-off IGAD’s heads of state in South Sudan crisis should be considered as priority. The UN, the Troika and other world body should not sit idle watching the dying South Sudanese in the hands of merciless government of Salva Kiir Mayardit. Believing in military might of other countries as a way of safeguarding the sovereign state and protection of the regime as what has been the case in South Sudan after the outbreak of civil war in its proper term is the liability and total insanity. The competitions over scarce resources along the Ilemi Triangle create more tensions and the governments of Kenya and Uganda fuel ethnic animosities. In effect, demarcating the borders using the previous British treaties from 1902, 1907 and 1972 would solve existential problem.

In view of these treaties, Nuer have good reasons to assert their territorial rights as per earlier agreements, before the matter become so muddled that people perceive the issue of land rights to be secondary, when it is, in fact, the basis of the political and economic dimensions of the conflict. Should the IGAD and heads of state negotiating on behalf of Salva Kiir Mayardit not be faithful to the settlement of South Sudan conflict, the Nuer would be forced to opt for an autonomous state, thus ensuring Sudanese, Eritrean support, and forcing Ethiopia and Egypt to side cum Nuer (or in the case of Egypt, at least split their attention between the Nuer state and the South Sudanese). Ethiopia will have to side with the Nuer since they mainly deal in Nuer territory anyway, and would get an indirect win-fall from the Nuer oil revenues. The Egyptians would have to deal with the Nuer regarding the construction of Jonglei bypass. An independent (or at least confederate) Nuer state would effectively isolate Uganda, Kenya and the Dinka of Bahr El Ghazal. Again, the Nuer are the game changer here.

Thus, maintaining the Ugandan army at the expense of the people of South Sudan is unacceptable; this has led to squandering of billion taxpayer’s money that could have been used for productive activity to the benefit of the people in question but not for the protection of regime that turned against its people. For IGAD to achieve lasting peace in South Sudan withdrawing all the allied forces, including UPDF of Uganda, the SPLM-N and the JEM is number one demand for the rebel movement to accept the poor concession though not enough for the peace to reign in South Sudan. Last but not least to give peace a chance, Salva Kiir must go so that new political dispensations can kick off to avoid backlash. The Transitional government of National Unity MUST be formed without Salva Kiir together with some of his cronies that are currently perpetuating the crisis in South Sudan, and above all an overhaul of the entire systems needs to be thoroughly conducted. The current political system imbedded in the governance in South Sudan is too deformed and needs to be reformed.

Dr. Chuol R. Kompuok holds a PhD in Economics, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He can  be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Impending Assault on Kalma Camp (South Darfur) by Khartoum's Military and Security Forces

By Eric Reeves

October 31, 2014 (SSNA) -- Highly reliable sources in Darfur report the ominous prospect of a wholesale assault by Khartoum's military and security forces on Kalma camp for displaced persons, near Nyala, capital of South Darfur (contact details for an Arabic speaker receiving this information as well are available upon request). The pretext will be the "need to conduct searches" of the camp, according to a UN account from last month (see 14 September 2014 OCHA report); but this will be merely pretext. And judging by previous assaults, including the recent assault on nearby al-Salam camp, we may expect serious violence and human rights abuses. In al-Salam, too, the "need to search" was asserted by Khartoum's forces, but despite a brutal and humiliating ransacking of the camp, nothing was found.

In the case of Kalma—the largest and most notoriously abused of the camps—the prospect of a "search" is especially alarming. For Kalma has a long and horrific history of violence against its displaced civilians. If the assault occurs this weekend or next week, as my Darfuri source indicates, there may be a very serious number of casualties, killed and wounded. This will not be without precedent. A military attack on Kalma occurred in August 2008, and was without meaningful response by the UN on the ground. Using public and confidential sources, I wrote (with Mia Farrow) the following:

At 6am on the morning of August 25, [2008] Kalma camp, home to 90,000 displaced Darfuris, was surrounded by Sudanese government forces. By 7am, 60 heavily armed military vehicles had entered the camp, shooting and setting straw huts ablaze. Terrified civilians—who had previously fled their burning villages when they were attacked by this same government and its proxy killers the Janjaweed—hastily armed themselves with sticks, spears and knives. Of course, these were no match for machine guns and automatic weapons. By 9am, the worst of the brutal assault was over. The vehicles rolled out leaving scores dead and over 100 wounded. Most were women and children.

The early morning attack ensured that no aid workers were present as witnesses. Doctors Without Borders did manage to negotiate the transportation of 49 of the most severely wounded to a hospital in the nearby town of Nyala. But beyond this, aid workers have been blocked from entering the camp. Military vehicles have now increased in number and massed around Kalma. They have permitted no humanitarian assistance to reach the wounded. People already hard hit by recent floods and deteriorating sanitary conditions have received no food, water or medicine since Monday. The dead cannot even be buried with the white shrouds requested by the families of the victims. (Wall Street Journal, 6 September 2008)

No one was held accountable, and the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) proved helpless, despite significant protection resources nearby. We should recall that the primary mandate of UNAMID is to protect civilians. Shielded from international criticism by the UN and the African Union at every turn, UNAMID continues to be the largest, most expensive, most disastrous failure in UN peacekeeping history. Even Ban Ki-moon was recently obliged to note that UNAMID failed to report serious human rights abuses and atrocity crimes (UNAMID provides the information that serves as the basis for the Secretary-General's quarterly reports on the mission and Darfur). But the report was a necessary whitewash, coming in response to the extremely serious charges of malfeasance reported earlier this year in a devastating three-part report in Foreign Policy ("They Just Stood Watching," 7 April 2014); it was based largely on observations made on the ground in Darfur by former UNAMID spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri. The first installment ends with might have served as an epigraph:

Elbasri says that she raised concerns about UNAMID's refusal to acknowledge the government role with one of the peacekeepers' local commanders, Maj. Gen. Wynjones Matthew Kisamba. She still remains shaken by his answer. The UNAMID forces, she recalls Kisamba saying, had to occasionally massage the truth. "You know, sometimes we have to behave like diplomats," he told her. "We can't say all what we see in Darfur."

Colum Lynch of Foreign Policy (2014 October 29) provides an excellent account of why we should take such comments seriously—and as characteristic of UNAMID behavior (UN Secretary-General admits only five cases in an unreleased report—a ludicrous figure, given what has been reported by multiple highly reliable sources).

UNAMID inert in the face of a militia attack on civilians near Kutum, North Darfur

There have been other examples of UNAMID's complete failure to protect civilians, even when their assistance is urgently requested. In the village of Tabarat, North Darfur, Reuters alone reported on the 2 September 2010 slaughter of villagers that UNAMID neither halted nor investigated (indeed, no report was ever produced by UNAMID):

Darfuri men were shot dead at point blank range during a surprise Arab militia raid on a busy market this month in which at least 39 people were killed and almost 50 injured, eyewitnesses said on Friday. The attack on civilians was reminiscent of the early years of the counter-insurgency operation in Sudan's west, which took up arms against the government in 2003, complaining that the region had been neglected by Khartoum The International Criminal Court in The Hague has since issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide and war crimes in Darfur, charges he denies.

Details of the September 2 attack on the market in the village of Tabarat have not previously come to light. The government prevented peacekeepers from visiting the site until days later. But five survivors of the attack told Reuters that heavily armed Arab militia had targeted male victims and shot many at point blank range.

In Tabarat, men were rounded up by militia wearing military uniforms who rode into the market on horses and camels pretending to be buying goods before spraying the shops with gunfire. Then vehicles mounted with machine guns and carrying militia fighters appeared and rounded up some of the men, survivors said. "They laid them down and they came up close and shot them in their heads," Abakr Abdelkarim, 45, told Reuters by telephone from the town of Tawilla, where many of the victims had sought refuge and medical help. "(Those killed) were all men and one woman—some men were tied with rope behind the cars and dragged until they died."

Adam Saleh and others said after the attack they had gone to the joint U.N.-African Union (UNAMID) peacekeeping base in Tawilla to ask peacekeepers to come to Tabarat but they had refused. "They also refused to come and help us recover the bodies," Saleh added. (Opheera McDoom for Reuters [Khartoum], 17 September 2010)

The most recent attack, which included members of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) as well as allied militia forces, was a savage assault on al-Salam camp, reported only by Radio Dabanga:

"Military raid on South Darfur’s El Salam camp" 

Radio Dabanga (5 August 2014 [El Salam Camp, Bielel Locality, South Darfur])

A large military force stormed El Salam camp for the displaced in Bielel locality, South Darfur, on Tuesday morning [5 August 2014]. The army troops searched the camp and detained 26 displaced. “At 6.30am on Tuesday, army forces in about 100 armoured vehicles raided El Salam camp,” Hussein Abu Sharati, the spokesman for the Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association reported to Radio Dabanga on Tuesday afternoon. “The soldiers searched the camp, treating the displaced in a degrading and humiliating way. They assaulted the people, treating them as suspects, and detained 26 camp residents. The market was pillaged, and the personal belongings of many displaced disappeared.”

According to Abu Sharati, the search for criminals, motorcycles, vehicles without number plates, and weapons in the camp, was done “under the pretext of the new emergency measures issued by the Governor of South Darfur State.”  “But in fact the main objectives of this attack is terrorising the camp population, and the dismantling of the camp.” “Searches in this way constitute a violation of international humanitarian laws. They attacked the camp, beat and robbed the displaced, and pillaged the market. We do not know how many people were wounded yet. We are still are checking them, and inventorying the items missing.”

On August 8, 2014, Radio Dabanga published a follow-up report on the attack on El Salam:

The leader of El Salam camp, Sheikh Mahjoub Adam Tabaldiya, confirmed to Radio Dabanga that a combined force consisting of security services, the army, and the police stormed the camp with more than 150 military vehicles, led by Abdulrahman Gardud, Commissioner of Nyala locality. Sheikh Tabaldiya termed the raid a farce. “When they entered the camp, they told the elders that they were searching for alcohol and drugs, but they were really looking for vehicles belonging to the armed movements, and families of rebels.

“The military force did not find anything, but arrested more than 75 people and took them to the military court in Nyala. As there was no proof against them, all but four were released.” Aaron Saleh, Jacob Abdul Rahman Abdullah, Mahmoud, and Saleh Abdullah are reportedly still in detention in Nyala. Tabaldiya said that during the raid, 23 displaced people received various injuries as a result of beating and whipping.

So feckless, so impotent is UNAMID that Khartoum's forces think nothing of threatening even UNAMID forces themselves. Reuters reported a particularly shocking case from North Darfur in January 2011; it came in the immediate wake of yet another aerial attack on civilians:

UNAMID spokesman Kemal Saiki confirmed the bombing [of civilians] was by "the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) air force." Later on Wednesday [January 26, 2011], a group of 200 Sudanese government soldiers in 40 vehicles arrived at UNAMID’s camp in the nearby settlement of Shangil Tobay [North Darfur], UNAMID said. "(The soldiers) surrounded the team site’s exit as well as the adjacent makeshift camp, where thousands of civilians recently displaced by the December 2010 clashes have settled," read the statement. The Sudanese army detained four displaced people at the camp, said UNAMID. "The SAF commander at the scene … then threatened to burn down the makeshift camp and UNAMID team site, if the peacekeepers continued to interfere." (Reuters [Khartoum], January 27, 2011)

Attacks on camps for the displaced in Darfur are nothing new: before UNAMID deployed and the only protection force on the ground was a very small African Union mission (AMIS), we at least had some honest and forthright reporting. The first major attack occurred in Aro Sharow (West Darfur) in September 2005, and at the time the AU Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on Darfur (October 1, 2005), spoke forcefully and directly:

On 18 September 2005, simultaneous attacks at Khartoum Djadeed, Sandego, Khasantongur, Tary, Martal and Djabain resulted in the death of 12 civilians, 5 seriously wounded, and the displacement of about 4,000 civilians. Heavy and small weapons mounted on vehicles were reportedly used by the Government of Sudan, in close coordination with about 300 Janjaweed Arab militia. Most of the displaced people moved to Zam Zam and Tawilla Internally Displaced Persons camps.

On 28 September 2005, just four days ago, some reportedly 400 Janjaweed Arab militia on camels and horseback went on the rampage in Aru Sharo, Acho and Gozmena villages in West Darfur. Our reports also indicate that the day previous, and indeed on the actual day of the attack, Government of Sudan helicopter gunships were observed overhead. This apparent coordinated land and air assault gives credence to the repeated claim by the rebel movements of collusion between the Government of Sudan forces and the Janjaweed/Arab militia. This incident, which was confirmed not only by our investigators but also by workers of humanitarian agencies and NGOs in the area, took a heavy toll resulting in 32 people killed, 4 injured and 7 missing, and about 80 houses/shelters looted and set ablaze.

The following day, a clearly premeditated and well rehearsed combined operation was carried out by the Government of Sudan military and police at approximately 11am in the town of Tawilla and its IDP camp in North Darfur. The Government of Sudan forces used approximately 41 trucks and 7 land cruisers in the operation which resulted in a number of deaths, massive displacement of civilians and the destruction of several houses in the surrounding areas as well as some tents in the IDP camps. Indeed, the remains of discharged explosive devices were found in the IDP camp. During the attack, thousands from the township and the IDP camp and many humanitarian workers were forced to seek refuge near the AU camp for personal safety and security.” (Transcript of Kingibe press conference, Khartoum, October 1, 2005)

Kalma camp is now at acute risk; indeed the risk of wholesale slaughter in an effort to close the camp has never been greater. Khartoum has long made clear its plans to dismantle the camps and deny international humanitarian organizations a rationale for remaining in Darfur (there is virtually no humanitarian presence anywhere in Darfur except in the camps and nearby towns and cities). Most recently, the leaked minutes of an August 31 meeting in Khartoum by the most senior military and security officials in the regime gave the summary recommendations of Major General and Vice President Bakri Hassan Saleh concerning Darfur:

"Support the mechanism intended to disperse or empty the IDP camps."

"Create differences and security strikes in the IDP camps."

"Support the mechanism intended to disperse or empty the IDP camps"—although the "mechanism" is not specified, it may be readily inferred from previous and increasingly numerous and violent assaults on camps for displaced persons. Kalma camp, the largest and most volatile of all the camps, would mark the start of the offensive implicit in Bakri's "mechanism."

My Darfuri sources indicate that UN humanitarian personnel have been urgently discussing among themselves contingency plans, but not with the displaced people of Kalma—this evidently for fear raising the ire of Khartoum. For its part, UNAMID will find a way to be absent from Kalma at the time of the attack. If the attack occurs as predicted, it will likely mark the true beginning of the "New Strategy for Darfur" first announced in September 2010. It is little more than an elaborate justification for the new "policy" on camps, requiring that remaining international nongovernmental humanitarian organizations convert their work to "development," even as acute humanitarian needs are everywhere to be seen.

Malnutrition threat confronting the displaced and the non-displaced alike

The UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs has finally begun to report, if exceedingly tersely (and without disaggregation of data for Darfur specifically), on the most significant barometer of malnutrition for purposes of humanitarian assessment, Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM). The public use of this vital statistic appeared for the first time in years only in July 2014; at the time OCHA reported the "GAM Caseload" as 1.4 million. In its most recent reports, the "GAM Caseload" figure is 2 million people—catastrophic malnutrition for a country the size of Sudan. These are people who are seriously malnourished (in a climate of violence such as that in Darfur, the threshold for a humanitarian emergency is a GAM rate of 10 percent among children under five).

We learn even more of what malnutrition data the UN has been withholding concerning Darfur in an internal UNICEF document posted by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times (5 September 2014), indicating that only (the truncated) West Darfur has a GAM rate for children below the emergency humanitarian threshold for an environment of conflict; all the other states are above the threshold. In North Darfur the rate of Global Acute Malnutrition for children under five is 28 percent.

"Chronic malnutrition" (or "stunting") of children under five is another key malnutrition measure. The UN World Health Organization threshold for "high prevalence" of Chronic Malnutrition is 30 percent; the threshold for "very high prevalence" is 40 percent. Four of the five Darfur states as presently configured have a "high prevalence" of Chronic Malnutrition; Central Darfur and East Darfur have a "very high prevalence" of Chronic Malnutrition among children under five. Sudan as a whole ranked fourth from the bottom in the UNICEF document recording measurements of "Percent of Under-Fives Moderately or Severely Wasted."

Kalma in the aftermath

These figures reflect, inter alia, the consequences of Khartoum's war of attrition against humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur. And this poses a critical problem for the people of Kalma camp. If these displaced civilians are forced to leave the camp, where will they go? All the camps in the area are overflowing with displaced persons and have inadequate humanitarian resources. At the same time, the UN is reporting that more than 400,000 people have been newly displaced so far in 2014, adding to the figure of 2 million for 2013: some 2.5 million internally displaced persons and 350,000 refugees in neighboring eastern Chad remain victims of Khartoum's grim genocide by attrition. The huge population of Kalma will be disastrously affected by forced removal.

Will this attack mark what one Darfuri told me is another translation from the Arabic for the phrase "A New Strategy for Darfur" ... "The Final Resolution of the Darfur Crisis"? What is clear is that UNAMID is unprepared to halt whatever military and security decisions Khartoum makes, and that the UN is unprepared to confront Khartoum politically, even knowing what is impending.

A massive catastrophe looms.

Eric Reeves' book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 - 2012;; review commentary at:

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