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Khartoum steps up its war on humanitarian relief efforts in Darfur

By Eric Reeves

December 15, 2015 (SSNA) -- Radio Dabanga reports today that one of the major International Nongovernmental (Humanitarian) Organizations (INGOs) still operating in Darfur was assaulted yesterday (December 14, 2015) by security forces in Nierteti (formerly West Darfur, now part of a factitious “Central Darfur”).  The character of the assault on UK-based Tearfund augurs poorly for the organization’s ability to remain in any of its locations in Darfur. Currently Tearfund operates not only in Nierteti—where it serves the people of Tour, Guldo, Golo, Gurnei, and Ardeba, as well as in the camps for the displaced in Nierteti, Um Dukhun, Garsila, and the capital Zalingei—but operates in Kass and Ed Daein in South Darfur.  The organization has support bases in Nyala (South Darfur), Zalingei (“Central”/West Darfur), and Khartoum.

According to the highly-informed Radio Dabanga:

Security agents reportedly closed the office of the UK-based Tearfund organisation, working in the field of health and nutrition, in Nierteti, Central Darfur, on Monday (December 15, 2015). A source reported to Radio Dabanga from Nierteti that a force of security agents, led by a colonel, stormed the organisation's office at 1 pm. “They seized all the materials, equipment, and devices, including the cash in the treasurer’s safe, amounting to more than SDG250,000 ($39,220), and personal belongings of the staff members. “They then took the foreign and Sudanese staff to the office of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Nierteti,” he said.

There can be little doubt that this move was a deliberate effort to pressure Tearfund to withdraw from all locations in Darfur. This assault was meant to be not only destructive of resources but threatening to the safety of staff, both national and international.  In the past Khartoum has often simply expelled organizations—more than two dozen to date, including many of the world’s finest—and if Tearfund should decide to remain, despite this outrageous provocation, it appears highly likely that they too will be expelled. 

It is no accident that the office targeted was in the very midst of a region that is experiencing extraordinary levels of violence against civilians.  Tearfund’s presence provides eyes on the ground, witnesses to massive, ongoing atrocity crimes. It is inconceivable that in the climate of fear and terror that Khartoum has created the Tearfund office would have done anything to provoke or justify yesterday’s assault.  That the assault was led by a colonel of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), and that NISS carried out the operation, suggest a high-level decision, part of Khartoum’s broader and largely effective effort to remove all international humanitarian relief organizations from Darfur.  Tearfund is certainly one of the very largest and most important of those organizations that have remained in Darfur.

But it is also in a position to see the consequences of the terrible destruction and dire humanitarian conditions in East Jebel Marra and the Jebel Marra massif itself.  Two weeks ago, Radio Dabanga reported on findings reported by Tearfund and others:

Tearfund has reported that a total of 423 severe acute malnutrition cases from the inner Jebel Marra were admitted to their treatment centres in February 2015. In June 2015, three national NGOs carried out an assessment to government-controlled areas of East Jebel Marra (Deribat, Dira, Kiba, Koroni, Soro, Korbal, Baimadina, Sawani, Bele-Serif, Leiba, and Jawa) and established that approximately 20,000 affected people are in urgent need of water and sanitation services, health, nutrition, education and emergency shelter. No assistance has been provided up to date.

This is not the kind of reporting that the Khartoum regime wishes to see made public. Moreover, the regime is well aware that compelling Tearfund to withdraw will affect far more than the 20,000 people without any food, water, or sanitation: it will affect all the locations in a region that has been the subject of a brutal genocidal campaign for more than two years.

Unsurprisingly, Radio Dabanga is the only news organization reporting on this highly consequential violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).  Those who on other occasions profess deep concern for IHL violations have been consistently silent on Darfur.  But if unchecked, the assault on Tearfund—really an assault on international humanitarian relief efforts generally—may prove the tipping point for other organizations as well.  Silence encourages Khartoum to believe that it may proceed with this longstanding project of removing all international humanitarian presence from Darfur—“Sudanizing” relief efforts, which means little more than lip service, provided by a very few national organizations which have minimal funding and very little of the capacity provided by INGOs (even when staffed, as nearly all are, by Sudanese nationals).

Which will it be? Silence or strenuous protest, with serious consequences threatened?  If the past is any guide, the former will take Darfur one step closer to utter catastrophe.

(Both Radio Dabanga dispatches are included below:

Central Darfur security raids INGO office in Nierteti | December 15, 2015 | Nierteti, (“Central”)/West Darfur

Security agents reportedly closed the office of the UK-based Tearfund organisation, working in the field of health and nutrition, in Nierteti, Central Darfur, on Monday. A source reported to Radio Dabanga from Nierteti that a force of security agents, led by a colonel, stormed the organisation's office at 1 pm. “They seized all the materials, equipment, and devices, including the cash in the treasurer’s safe, amounting to more than SDG250,000 ($39,220), and personal belongings of the staff members. “They then took the foreign and Sudanese staff to the office of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Nierteti,” he said.

A staff member of Tearfund in Sudan told Radio Dabanga on personal title that the organisation provides health and nutrition services to nearly five million [sic] people in the Darfur region [Tearfund’s service is extensive, but this is clearly an error in translation or composition—ER]. “Tearfund in Central Darfur is providing aid to people in Tour, Guldo, Golo, Gurnei, and Ardeba, as well as in the camps for the displaced in Nierteti, Um Dukhun, Garsila, and the capital Zalingei,” he said. Tearfund operates in three out of the five states that make up Darfur: Um Dukhun and Nierteti in Central Darfur, Ed Daein in East Darfur, and Kass in South Darfur. Tearfund has support bases in Nyala (South Darfur), Zalingei (Central Darfur), and Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, according to the organisation's website.

Its work in Darfur is funded by donors including the governments of UK (DFID), Canada (CIDA-HAPS through partner World Relief Canada), Australia (AusAid through Partner TEAR Australia), the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) and the Development and Cooperation-Europe Aid Office, United States (OFDA), the United Nations, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and Tearfund supporters.

Sudan: East Jebel Marra Fact Sheet - People Blocked From Humanitarian Aid  | Radio Dabanga, Nov 27, 2015 | East Jebel Marra, North Darfur

The United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has released an update on the humanitarian situation in Darfur's East Jebel MarraThe office reported that up to this day, nearly 21 percent of the population in the massif has been displaced to camps for displaced people in recent months. According to a Sudanese aid commission and community leaders, this figure has tripled in the past months.

The East Jebel Marra massif lies in the centre of the Darfur region, bordering the state divisions of Central, South and North Darfur. It is a fertile region inhabited mainly by the Fur tribe and has since 2003 been the primary stronghold of the Sudan Liberation Armies (SLA). It is the only place in Darfur where armed opposition maintains prolonged control over territory and the only area in Darfur to which humanitarian organisations have had no access as of 2011.

For its report, OCHA focused on the mountainous areas in the centre of the massif, the “inner Jebel Marra area,” parts of which are controlled by the Sudanese government and parts by the SLA rebels.

Population figures

There are no reliable population statistics for the inner Jebel Marra. The latest census was completed in 2008, and then only for certain parts of the inner Jebel Marra. The lack of access for humanitarian organizations to the area since 2011 has hampered any collection of recent data. Current estimates indicate there are some 365,000 people living in the greater East Jebel Marra, and approximately one third of those - 120,000 people - live in the inner Jebel Marra.

Knowing that some 25,000 people (of the 120,000 people in inner Jebel Marra) have been displaced to camps for internally displaced persons in Central and North Darfur in recent months, OCHA estimates that today there could be some 95,000 people in the inner Jebel Marra, stating that nearly 21 percent of the total population is displaced. Of these 95,000, however, the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) and community leaders have reported that some 47,600 people have been displaced in recent months; meaning that 60 percent of the Jebel Marra population has been displaced.

Tearfund has reported that a total of 423 severe acute malnutrition cases from the inner Jebel Marra were admitted to their treatment centres in February 2015. In June 2015, three national NGOs carried out an assessment to government-controlled areas of East Jebel Marra (Deribat, Dira, Kiba, Koroni, Soro, Korbal, Baimadina, Sawani, Bele-Serif, Leiba, and Jawa) and established that approximately 20,000 affected people are in urgent need of water and sanitation services, health, nutrition, education and emergency shelter. No assistance has been provided up to date.

Aid delivery blocked

Access restrictions to East Jebel Marra not only prevent humanitarian organisations and individual actors from having an exact understanding of the population numbers in the area, but also block aid to people in need, OCHA writes. Main obstacles to free and regular access to the area include access restrictions by the parties to the conflict, preventing humanitarians from entering both government and rebel-controlled areas. Additionally, the unpredictable security situation in general: hostilities, including both ground fighting and aerial bombardment, are ongoing, according to reliable sources on the ground. The government has also expressed concern that humanitarian aid could directly support opposition fighters.

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for the past seventeen years. He is author of Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012

Criminal Financial Support for the Khartoum Regime: A Last Chance for U.S. Justice for the People of Sudan

By Eric Reeves

December 10, 2015 (SSNA) -- Gayle Smith, who has long worked as a senior Africa specialist in the Obama administration’s National Security Council, was recently confirmed by the Senate to be the new head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (the agency had long been without a permanent Administrator). Smith has long worked on Sudan and knows both Sudan and South Sudan extremely well. She is also well aware of what is occurring in Darfur; indeed, in May 2004 she wrote a column for the Washington Post (with current National Security Advisor Susan Rice) declaring:

The United States should begin urgent military planning and preparation for the contingency that no other country will act to stop the dying in Darfur. The administration has worked hard to end Sudan’s long-running civil conflict. But this effort will have been wasted if we allow the Sudanese government to continue committing crimes against humanity. Not only will the international community have blood on its hands for failure to halt another genocide, but we will have demonstrated to Khartoum that it can continue to act with impunity against its own people. (May 30, 2004).

These words went unheeded, and the catastrophe in Darfur—twelve years later—has recently seen genocidal destruction again rise to fever pitch. The Khartoum regime “continues to act with impunity against its own people.” Despite this, USAID Administrator Smith has a chance to help the people of Darfur and Sudan in a different way: responding to the urgent humanitarian crises facing millions of Sudanese, and seeing justice done in distributing massive restitution funds from the U.S. criminal conviction of French banking giant BNP Paribas.

This is but one example of the desperate humanitarian needs unmet by international funding. In Sudan as a whole more than 2,000,000 children in are acutely malnourished and may die. More than 500,000 suffer from “Severe Acute Malnutrition” and will almost certainly die without emergency humanitarian action. This year’s poor harvest has brought the long-simmering malnutrition emergency to the crisis level. Disease is rampant in many locations and water shortages are now chronic throughout Sudan; malnutrition makes these much greater threats.

As Administrator of USAID, Smith now has the opportunity to fight not for military protection of civilians but for a different sort of assistance. The June 30, 2014 settlement agreement and May 2015 conviction of French banking giant BNP Paribas on criminal charges involving abuses of the American financial system resulted in a penalty of forfeitures and fines amounting to almost $9 billion. Of this, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has set aside $3.8 billion in restitution monies for those “harmed” by BNPP’s actions; and according to court records, of the $9 billion in illegal financial activities by BNPP, some 72 percent benefited the Khartoum regime—the very regime responsible for the genocide Smith so fiercely decried.

Final disposition of the case was made in a sentencing hearing in May of this year—over six months ago. DOJ was undecided about how these monies should be used, and the result has been an inter-agency review process on the question, one that has involved not only DOJ but the State Department, the National Security Council, and USAID—the agency that Smith now oversees.

Two competing “narratives” have emerged in the review process: one argues that a very substantial portion of the huge restitution monies go to those actually harmed by BNPP’s actions during the period of criminal activity (2002 – 2008 according to DOJ’s presentation of facts in the case). For Sudan this would take the form of a Community Compensation proposal, for Darfur as much as possible, but also for refugees in eastern Chad, in South Sudan, and for those South Sudanese harmed when their country was still part of Sudan—especially in what is now Upper Nile State.

The other “narrative” argues that the $3.8 billion should be apportioned very differently: all would go to American victims of terrorism and their families, no matter when the acts of terrorism occurred or who was responsible: the attack on the USS Cole (2000), the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania (1998), and the attacks of September 11, 2001. Notably, all these events occurred before the 2002 framing date in the DOJ suit.

There can be no denying that the victims and families of terrorist attacks deserve some sort of financial compensation for their suffering and losses, although there are a number of sources besides the BNPP restitution monies (those directly suing the Khartoum regime for the USS Cole bombing recently won an important legal victory unrelated to the BNPP case). But for the people of Sudan, both inside and outside the country, there is no other source of restitution for the grievous “harm” they suffered and continue to suffer because of the assistance rendered by BNPP to the genocidal Khartoum regime.

This is where Gayle Smith can play an important part in the choice of “narratives.” For all evidence, from all sources, suggests that John Kerry’s State Department has weighed in perhaps decisively in favor of the second “narrative”; again, this would see all $3.8 billion go to Americans harmed by terrorist attacks, no matter whether there is any connection to BNPP’s financial crimes, or whether the attacks occurred before or after the dates that defined DOJ’s prosecution of BNPP.

DOJ seems to be in a “wait and see” posture: communication from those within the restitution department of Justice seems unsurpassably opaque. The National Security Council, insofar as it responds at all to queries about an “inter-agency process,” gives no sign of active involvement. That leaves only the US Agency for International Development to fashion some compromise that will not callously deny all aid to desperately needy Sudanese—those who were clearly “harmed” most by BNPP’s actions. Smith is a seasoned veteran of the Obama and Clinton administrations; she is tough-minded, forceful, and intelligent. She will need all these qualities if USAID is to see true justice done for the people of Sudan. Her success or failure in changing the heartless plan supported by the State Department will do much to define her legacy in government, particularly in the Obama administration.

Postscript

John Kerry and the March 2009 humanitarian expulsions from Darfur:

One week after the March 5, 2009 expulsion by Khartoum of thirteen critical humanitarian organizations working in Darfur, President Obama declared that such actions were “not acceptable” (March 10, 2009). But he and representatives of his administration subsequently took to a vague language of accommodation:

“We have to figure out a mechanism to get those [expelled international humanitarian organizations] back in place [in Darfur], to reverse that decision, or to find some mechanism whereby we avert an enormous humanitarian crisis, [Obama said].” (italics added) (Reuters [Washington, DC], March 30, 2009).

Such a “mechanism” was of course nowhere in sight six weeks after Obama’s declaration—and never materialized. ​A​ month after the expulsions ​U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration declared,

“We have to come up with a solution [to the humanitarian crisis] on the ground in the next few weeks.” (italics added) (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], April 4, 2009).

But it was left to former Senator John Kerry, then chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and now Secretary of State—and now also deciding on whether to use BNPP restitution monies to aid the people of Darfur and other locations in Sudan—to offer the supremely expedient claim, declaring,

“We have agreement [with Khartoum] that in the next weeks we will be back to 100 percent [humanitarian] capacity,” said [Senator John] Kerry. (italics added) (Reuters [el-Fasher], April 17, 2009).

Kerry’s deeply deceptive misrepresentation of what was possible suggested,​ first,​ that an “agreement”​ with Khartoum meant something: a long history makes clear that it ​never had and it never has, either in the short term or long term. And then ​to suggest that rapid restoration of 50 percent of humanitarian capacity in Darfur—what UN officials estimate was lost with the expulsions—was possible was cynical expediency, finally mendacity. As UN officials working on the humanitarian situation in Darfur at the time made clear to me, “100 percent” restoration of humanitarian capacity was completely impossible, given the massive capacity that had been lost during the expulsions.  History has proved them to be all too accurate in their assessment.​

All Kerry succeeded in doing by​ protecting President Obama from the foolishness of his earlier talk about “finding a mechanism​” to restore humanitarian capacity in Darfur—an issue of which Obama had made much during his presidential campaign—was to diminish international pressure on Khartoum to reverse a decision that has certainly cost many tens of thousands of lives in the nearly seven years intervening.

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for the past seventeen years. He is author of Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012

Stop clannish behaviors and advocate for peace: a response to Pal Nguendeng Teny and Stephen Nhial Hoth’s crisscross articles

By Gai James Kai

November 9, 2015 (SSNA) -- To begin with, these so-called   clans/counties associations in Kampala were formed to establish civilized ways and means of policing and attending the issues for the good of all stands in the fabrics of Nuer community in Uganda.

Uppermost is the dismantling of clannish ways of life that nurtures barbarism and savagery where there is complete and total absence of rules and tenets guidelines only appeal to the four Nuer (Lich, Phow, Bieh and Latjor community,) but bond together by Nuer community in Uganda.

These four subjects of Nuer community in Uganda thus speak with one voice, stay and live in harmony and togetherness and are regulated by Nuer community in Uganda whose rules bring about norms that exude civility.

After nearly two years of Nuer marginalization and mass suffering, we the ‘’lucky’’ ones in the Republic of Uganda and those residing in different countries; outside South Sudan should not dare to have leapt ahead further were both of you (Pal and Nhial) are taking us today.

As we (people from lich state) have pointed out in this very conversation, we don’t deserve to be neither a case study nor must walk astride and humbly with other civilized Nuer, gauging against clannish.

That much says, all Nuer, either these in Uganda or those outside should not only avoid but totally stop on its tracks all innuendoes, acts, and/or issues tailored to fan selfishness, and retrogressive partisan clannish tendencies.

Of course! The rest of South Sudanese are watching us just as the other Nuer communities are keen on whatever is evolves within Lich State and around our backyard.

Yes! The political fever among us in Lich State is pitching higher in a climate that is slowly and surely resolving around what we long ago curtailed. However, don’t forget the lives were quite costly.

By Nuer community in Uganda, we mean the clergies, elders the populace at large – thus the young, old and sundry and with either those in government or opposition side.

Therefore, we should and must do something swiftly, quickly and promptly to refrain from this clannish mentality before further damage is done here in Kampala and Uganda at large!

Nuer community in Uganda is too dear to all of us; regardless of our clans and geographical locations, just it is larger than all her subjects.

This stupid naked, hawkish and callously virulent rhetoric heard and seen of attacks and counter attacks between Dok and Bul community in Uganda that, if anything, undermine what we the leadership painfully and without tangible evidence help put together is too sad, disgusting and hurtful to bear.

We can no longer sit down and allow what is going with impunity and unchecked verbal fights between Dok and Bul community in Uganda to continue.

The abusive and malicious words exchanged by Pal Ngueng, the Chairman of Dok community in Uganda and Nhial Hoth from Bull community are indeed fertile devilish nursery beds and barbaric that may nurture Nuer community in Uganda discords hence render brethren asunder.

God forbid! We the leadership of Nuer community in Uganda don’t want such scenarios since they would only turn back the clock to the dark days dudgeons of byssi and retrocession once in Lich state .

Our vision and mission as the leadership is to mobilize a massive guidance campaign to back sanity and sobriety amongst the Nuer community in Uganda.

Therefore, this recent spate of daises that emit fire – spitting scornful tongue – lashes the so-called Dok and bul community in Uganda is coming to a new height and must stop forthwith.

The author is a Law student at Nkumba University – Kampala, Uganda. He is the Legal affairs Secretary for South Sudanese Students’ Union in Uganda, serving the same position at Naath University and College Students’ Union in Uganda and the deputy Legal Affairs Secretary of Nuer Community in Uganda. He can be reached through This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or add him on Facebook by simply searching for Gai James Kai.

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