Julie Flint: Quiet diplomacy will not save Darfur

The UN must conclude this week that the Sudan government has failed to fulfill its obligations

Share
Related Topics

Even in a best-case scenario, the World Health Organisation says, 110,000 people will die in Darfur by year end. Others believe it could be as many as 350,000. Only one thing is sure: the "best-case" estimate is conservative. It requires that the government of Sudan, a past master at obstructing humanitarian relief, give full and immediate access to Darfur, and that isn't going to happen.

Even in a best-case scenario, the World Health Organisation says, 110,000 people will die in Darfur by year end. Others believe it could be as many as 350,000. Only one thing is sure: the "best-case" estimate is conservative. It requires that the government of Sudan, a past master at obstructing humanitarian relief, give full and immediate access to Darfur, and that isn't going to happen.

Slowly evolving, deniable death by hunger and disease is one of the favourite weapons of the Arab-supremacist, fundamentalist generals who seized power in Sudan 15 years ago. They used it in the Nuba mountains and oilfields of southern Sudan - and they're using it now in Darfur.

When the international community first reacted to the slaughter in Darfur, a predominantly African but wholly Muslim region of northern Sudan that has suffered decades of neglect and abuse, Khartoum blocked efforts to save lives with an array of stratagems. It denied access, demanded that UN drugs be tested in Sudanese labs, insisted that storage fees be paid on items the government itself was holding up. In the last month, despite guaranteeing unimpeded access, it has opened some doors but closed others. Most imaginatively, an aircraft delivering relief supplies was held back on the ground that it was more than 20 years old.

The UN Security Council today begins debating whether Khartoum has done what Resolution 1,556 of 30 July demanded that it do - immediately impose "a moratorium on all restrictions that might hinder the provision of humanitarian assistance" and, most critically, "disarm the Janjaweed militias and apprehend and bring to justice Janjaweed leaders and their associates".

It hasn't. Not one Janjaweed camp has been closed. A handful have even been opened. Not a single Janjaweed leader has been apprehended. Common criminals have been paraded as Janjaweed detainees and a number of complete unknowns have been arrested, convicted and subjected to bilateral amputation. The most notorious Janjaweed leader, who wears the uniform of an army colonel, has been permitted to hold court in a five-star hotel in Khartoum, confidently asserting that the government that "appointed" him will not be "stupid" enough to arrest him.

It is a foregone conclusion that the Security Council, driven by self-interest, will this week give Khartoum more time in which to let the Janjaweed murder, rape and pillage in those areas where they can get away with it and put on government uniforms where they can't. The best evidence for this is the complete contempt Khartoum showed for the Council on the eve of being threatened with a very small stick - indeterminate "further actions". Asked whether Sudan intended to comply with Resolution 1,556 within the 30-day grace period, the Agriculture Minister, Majzoub al-Khalifa said: "It's never crossed our mind."

Khalifa was speaking 48 hours after the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, extended a lifeline to Khartoum by saying the government "appeared" to have made progress in some areas. Straw said aerial bombardment of villages "appeared" to have stopped since June. "Appear" just isn't good enough. The Janjaweed, supported by the Sudanese air force, destroyed 34 villages inhabited by the Birgit and Mima tribes in three days in July. More than 400 people died.

Khartoum must have thought it was Christmas: more wriggle room on the eve of judgement week and further evidence of how those who've taken the moral high ground in Iraq are content to occupy the low ground in Darfur.

Experience has shown that quiet diplomacy achieves nothing with this government. What can is the kind of targeted, sustained pressure that put Osama bin Laden on a plane. The Security Council must conclude that the government has not fulfilled its obligations under Resolution 1,556 and name and shame the officials responsible - at national level, the First Vice President, Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, the Minister of Federal Rule, Nafie Ali Nafie, the Defence Minister, Bakri Hassan, and the intelligence chief, Salah Gosh.

International travel by them and their families should be barred, their assets frozen and an international commission of inquiry established to investigate war crimes. Sanctions should be introduced against Sudan's oil industry and businesses owned by the ruling party. The arms embargo ordered against the Janjaweed in July should be redirected to the government, which supplies the Janjaweed.

The Security Council must demand that Khartoum accept an African Union mission robust enough to protect civilians - by force if necessary - as a prelude to getting them back to their villages, thereby thwarting Khartoum's plan to corral them in "safe areas" while others occupy the land from which they have been driven.

If Khartoum cannot be moved, or if appeasement continues at the UN, there are only two choices: continued inaction and certain death for legions of unarmed civilians, or unilateral action to pressure Khartoum and save lives. Not in the name of a messianic war against terror, but to stop well- advanced mass murder unleashed by a member state of the UN.

The writer is a journalist and author of the Human Rights Watch report 'Darfur Destroyed'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping the child abuse taking place now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower