Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Quantifying Genocide in Darfur - Part 2 (Eric Reeves)

The latest update on the horrifying realities of the Darfur atrocity, from Eric Reeves.
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Part 1 of this mortality assessment (April 28, 2006), surveying all relevant extant data, concludes that since the outbreak of major conflict in Darfur (February 2003), over 450,000 people have died from violence, disease, and malnutrition [....]
Moreover, despite the “peace agreement” reached in Abuja (Nigeria) last week, there is little reason to believe that the current mortality rate for disease and malnutrition (based on UN data) will decline from a level of almost 7,000 deaths per month (see Part 1). Indeed, this rate will likely soon rise dramatically [....]
A wholesale implosion of humanitarian operations also remains a distinct possibility, one highlighted in a recent interview offered by Jan Egeland [UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs]:

“Everybody now discusses the optimal kind of UN mission---for next year for nine months from now. This whole thing could unravel in nine days or nine weeks because we have no money to continue lifesaving humanitarian work.” (Interview with The New Republic [on-line], May 12, 2006)

Jan Egeland’s record is one of singular honesty among UN officials who were in senior positions two years ago, when the genocide in Darfur was so clearly before the eyes of the world. His retrospective glance in a recent Wall Street Journal op/ed gives us all too clear an image of our failure:

“I first spoke to the UN Security Council on Darfur two years ago, calling it ethnic cleansing of the worst kind. Today, I could simply hit the rewind button on much of that earlier briefing. The world’s largest aid effort now hangs in the balance, unsustainable under present conditions. If we are to avoid an imminent, massive loss of life, we need immediate action---from the Government of Sudan, the rebels, UN Security Council members and donor governments.” (May 5, 2006)

Such “action” is nowhere in prospect, and we must accept the terrible truth that “imminent, massive loss of life” has already begun. “The worst form of ethnic cleansing”---and here even those who cannot pronounce Darfur and the “g-word” together must find a near synonymous phrase for “genocide”---proceeds apace.
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Some further highlights follow.
--Jeff Weintraub
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QUANTIFYING GENOCIDE IN DARFUR: May 13, 2006 (Part 2)

Current data for total mortality from violence, malnutrition, and disease

Eric Reeves
May 13, 2006

Part 1 of this mortality assessment (April 28, 2006), surveying all relevant extant data, concludes that since the outbreak of major conflict in Darfur (February 2003), over 450,000 people have died from violence, disease, and malnutrition (see Quantifying Genocide in Darfur: April 28, 2006 (Part 1) ). Moreover, despite the “peace agreement” reached in Abuja (Nigeria) last week, there is little reason to believe that the current mortality rate for disease and malnutrition (based on UN data) will decline from a level of almost 7,000 deaths per month (see Part 1). Indeed, this rate will likely soon rise dramatically: such a conclusion seems inevitable in light of a wide range of humanitarian indicators (including rising acute malnutrition rates), insecurity that paralyzes many aid operations, and general debilitation within a conflict-affected population that reaches to almost 4 million in Darfur and eastern Chad. Violent mortality will also explode upwards if no robust international force deploys to Darfur in order to protect civilians and humanitarian operations. [....]

[The materials to have been included in additional appendices may be found at various points in fourteen previous mortality assessments: see especially “Darfur Mortality Update, June 30, 2005,” as well as articles appearing here and here.]

PROSPECTIVE MORTALITY IN DARFUR

In assessing prospective mortality in Darfur, the most important indicators are not purely statistical, though a raft of grim statistical indicators is at hand, auguring immense human destruction in the weeks and months to come. Even more important than the complex calculus of humanitarian supplies, logistics, and funding are the unrelenting genocidal impulses of the Khartoum regime. Here it cannot be stressed often enough that the National Islamic Front, which now fully controls the nominal “Government of National Unity,” has for over two and a half years relentlessly and remorselessly obstructed humanitarian relief efforts.
This obstructionism, noted yet again in recent days by UN humanitarian aid chief Jan Egeland, as well as in his April 20 report to the Security Council, has seriously attenuated the delivery and efficiency of humanitarian operations. This in turn has cost thousands of lives, and may soon cost tens of thousands of lives. This is deliberate human destruction; and given the keen understanding by Khartoum that those who perish for lack of humanitarian assistance are overwhelmingly from the non-Arab or African tribal populations of Darfur, this destruction must be seen as intentional---in short, as genocidal.
As the UN World Food Program has been forced to cut food rations by 50% (to half what is required to sustain human life), and as acute malnutrition has risen to 15% in South Darfur (a terribly certain harbinger for much of the rest of Darfur), it is important to understand that the food crisis could be averted if Khartoum were to make humane use of the 300,000-500,000 metric tons of grain within its strategic food reserve. [....] This enormous quantity of grain---which could save many tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Sudanese lives---is sitting idly at various locations in Sudan. Khartoum’s National Islamic Front regime refuses to disperse it, or even to sell it at a reasonable price to the UN’s World Food Program. According to the US Agency for International Development, Khartoum sets a price so high that it is actually cheaper to procure food elsewhere and transport it to Darfur and other places of need.
To deny Sudanese civilians access to Sudanese food at time of critical need offers a powerfully revealing glimpse of what the National Islamic Front represents---and of what, most fundamentally, it means to be “marginalized” in Sudan.

PROSPECTS FOR SECURITY

There is no evidence to date that the signing of the Abuja accord will improve the security situation on the ground in either Darfur or eastern Chad (see my May 10, 2006 analysis in The New Republic). On the contrary, there have been numerous reports of extremely serious violence in connection with the large-scale military offensive launched by Khartoum in the Gereida area (South Darfur) just days before the deadline for the Abuja draft agreement. Reports of violence along the Chad/Darfur border are also increasingly serious, and large numbers of civilians have been moved away from the border area.
Certainly there are no signs that Khartoum intends to end the “climate of impunity” remarked well over a year and a half ago by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour. [....]

UN INTERVENTION TO HALT THE KILLING IN DARFUR?


The latest reports from the UN suggest that the US has encountered serious difficulties in passing a Security Council resolution authorizing deployment of a meaningful peacekeeping force to Darfur. The situation will become clearer following Monday’s (May 15, 2006) meeting in Addis Ababa of the African Union Peace and Security Council. But even prior to that meeting---in which the AU may continue to cleave to a shamefully belated September 30, 2006 handover to the UN---there are signs that the Security Council will balk at providing anything remotely adequate to the security needs of civilians and humanitarians. An especially well-informed Associated Press dispatch reports:

“The US has run into strong resistance in its bid for a Security Council resolution that would give the United Nations immediate control over peacekeepers in Darfur, diplomats said Friday [May 12, 2006]. Objections from China, Russia and several African nations have forced the United States to strip out much of the most powerful language of the draft, possibly delaying the deployment of UN peacekeepers in the troubled Sudanese region.” (May 12, 2006)

Indeed, a close look at the revised US draft reveals a thoroughly gutted document, one that commits the UN in no meaningful way. This will have the effect of further emboldening Khartoum, which had disingenuously suggested before the conclusion of the Abuja accord that it would admit UN peacekeepers once a peace agreement had been signed. Now, with the “peace agreement” in hand and international murmurs of approval, Khartoum has begun to renege on its commitment to permit UN peacekeepers. Notably, the regime is still denying visas to an assessment team from the UN Department of Peacekeeping operations. Moreover, various senior officials in the National Islamic Front regime insist that no decision has been made on whether to admit UN forces, and that in any event, the decision will be entirely Khartoum’s. This means, at the very least, that the regime will demand it be allowed to dictate the size and mandate of any UN force---another way of ensuring that there is no meaningful UN force. [....]

HOW SERIOUS IS THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION ABOUT CONFRONTING KHARTOUM’S GENOCIDAIRES?

A telling story appears in today’s Washington Post and reports on the US State Department decision to grant an extended personal visa to one of Khartoum’s most vicious genocidaires. If we want to understand why Khartoum remains emboldened in its conduct of genocide in Darfur, why a “climate of impunity” continues to reign in Darfur, why the voice of the US is so compromised, we must see the implications of admitting to this country Ali Ahmed Karti, former head of the notoriously brutal Popular Defense Forces (PDF), paramilitary militias organized and funded by Khartoum, and recently often fighting alongside the better known Janjaweed militia forces. Indeed, many Janjaweed have been recycled into the PDF.
Beyond its depredations in Darfur, the PDF was a key military instrument in the scorched-earth clearances in southern Sudan during the most brutal phase of the north/south conflict in the oil regions of Upper Nile Province, as well as in neighboring Bahr el-Ghazal Province. [....]
Certainly the feeble and exceedingly short list of those sanctioned on April 25, 2006 (per Security Council Resolution 1591, March 2005) does not begin to touch any of the senior NIF genocidaires, including Gosh, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein (current defense minister and former minister of the interior), Elzubeir Bashir Taha (current minister of the interior), and Major General Ismat Zain al-Din (director of military operations of the Sudanese Armed Forces). Here again, the most important consequences of moral and political cowardice take the form of emboldened political calculations in Khartoum. Far from being an action that will change the regime’s thinking, such a painfully weak sanctions resolution signals only that there is no international political ability or diplomatic will to punish those most directly responsible for genocide in Darfur.

HUMANITARIAN MORTALITY INDICATORS


There is no simple way to capture the extraordinary urgency conveyed by increasingly numerous dispatches from UN and nongovernmental humanitarian organizations. But Kofi Annan, who has done more than his share of posturing on Darfur, offers a blunt assessment of the current funding crisis for Darfur and eastern Chad (where only 16% of total funding needs have been met, even as food needs are skyrocketing because of the insecurity deriving mainly from Khartoum-backed violence): “Without massive and immediate support, the humanitarian agencies will be unable to continue their work, which means that hundreds of thousands more will die from hunger, malnutrition, and disease” (UN News Service, May 9, 2006).
“Hundreds of thousands more will die.” With a grim irony, given his role at the time, Annan went on to declare that “Darfur was potentially the [UN Security] council’s biggest test since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda” (The Guardian [UK], May 11, 2006). To Annan’s credit, there is very little more that can be said either about prospective mortality in Darfur and eastern Chad---or about the implications of our ongoing failure to respond with a robust humanitarian intervention.
Amidst this overwhelming crisis, it is important to recall again that the Khartoum regime controls a national food stockpile of 300,000 to 500,000 metric tons of grain, according to officials at the US Agency for International Development. Instead of releasing this grain for humanitarian purposes, Khartoum keeps grain prices artificially high, thus making it impossible for the UN’s World Food Program to buy food in-country. This adds enormously to the cost of food, and these increased costs ultimately diminish humanitarian capacity---and thus translate into human death through malnutrition and related diseases.
A wholesale implosion of humanitarian operations also remains a distinct possibility, one highlighted in a recent interview offered by Jan Egeland:

“Everybody now discusses the optimal kind of UN mission---for next year for nine months from now. This whole thing could unravel in nine days or nine weeks because we have no money to continue lifesaving humanitarian work.” (Interview with The New Republic [on-line], May 12, 2006)

It was Egeland who also highlighted in an April 20, 2006 report to the Security Council 14 categories of Khartoum’s obstruction, impeding, and harassment of humanitarian workers and operations---obstructionism that severely attenuates humanitarian efficiency and thereby also increases costs (see “Fact Sheet on Access Restrictions in Darfur and Other Parts of Sudan,” UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, April 20, 2006). At a time of such desperate financial shortfall, such obstructionism is a tool of genocide.
Jan Egeland’s record is one of singular honesty among UN officials who were in senior positions two years ago, when the genocide in Darfur was so clearly before the eyes of the world. His retrospective glance in a recent Wall Street Journal op/ed gives us all too clear an image of our failure:

“I first spoke to the UN Security Council on Darfur two years ago, calling it ethnic cleansing of the worst kind. Today, I could simply hit the rewind button on much of that earlier briefing. The world’s largest aid effort now hangs in the balance, unsustainable under present conditions. If we are to avoid an imminent, massive loss of life, we need immediate action---from the Government of Sudan, the rebels, UN Security Council members and donor governments.” (May 5, 2006)

Such “action” is nowhere in prospect, and we must accept the terrible truth that “imminent, massive loss of life” has already begun. “The worst form of ethnic cleansing”---and here even those who cannot pronounce Darfur and the “g-word” together must find a near synonymous phrase for “genocide”---proceeds apace.

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