Minimize The Ongoing Catastrophe.
Darfur seems to be off the Western news radar, but Eric Reeves argues against such complacency:
“September 26, 2009 — The diminishment of large-scale combat in Darfur has led some observers to minimize the ongoing catastrophe for the people of this tortured region. In words that have become notorious, outgoing UNAMID commander Martin Agwai declared in August that “as of today, I would not say there is a war going on in Darfur,” but rather “very low intensity” engagements. These words were anticipated by those of the departing UN/AU special representative to UNAMID, Rodolphe Adada: “There is no more fighting proper on the ground.” “Right now there is no high-intensity conflict in Darfur…. Call it what you will but this is what is happening in Darfur—a lot of banditry, carjacking, attacks on houses.”
These assessments appear strange indeed when we consider that during the tenure of these two men more than 450,000 Darfuris were newly displaced, according to figures from the UN High Commission for Refugees and the UN Department of Peacekeeping operations (317,000 in 2008 alone). The vast majority of these civilians were violently displaced because UNAMID continues to be ineffective in deterring or halting various forms of attacks on civilians. Despite the large number of personnel on the ground, UNAMID continues to operate at less than 50 percent of mandated capacity. Too often troops, civilian police, and other personnel lack equipment, transport, adequate communications and intelligence capacity—or even a clear understanding of their civilian protection mandate, which has UN Chapter 7 auspices.
But the assessments by Agwai and Adada failed completely to anticipate the recent violence initiated by Khartoum’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the Korma region northwest of el-Fasher in North Darfur. Reports of a significant military offensive by the SAF and its Janjaweed militia forces, underway since early September, have still not been investigated, nor have the conditions of several thousand newly displaced civilians been assessed by UNAMID or humanitarian organizations. Twenty civilian casualties were reported in early September and more recently an additional eighteen civilian casualties have been reported; even so UNAMID remains unwilling to demand of Khartoum that access be granted—a deference that breeds only more intransigence on the part of the regime. The rebel forces, who have seen this deference—and with good cause view UNAMID as having taken the regime’s side in the conflict—had previously refused to grant security guarantees to UNAMID but have now accepted that the immediate needs of civilians demand access and have granted it. Khartoum alone blocks UNAMID from investigating.”