Sudan: China Will Not Save Darfur

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May 23, 2007: It looks like China is fighting back against threats to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics. First off, China issued a statement saying that any sanctions against Sudan would not produce peace in Darfur. Then Japan (which takes from 35 to 38 percent of Sudan's daily oil production) announced that it would not boycott China's Olympics over Darfur. This makes sense for Japan, which is trying to get China to help it stop North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

May 22, 2007: There is a "surge" in internally displaced persons (IDPs) is occurring in South Darfur state. Several hundred new IDPs have arrived the Al Salam refugee camp. The refugees are probably fleeing the new wave of janjaweed militia attacks being reported in South Darfur.

The government of south Sudan said that it will upgrade the airport at Juba to "international standards." South Sudan and the main Sudanese government in Khartoum also announced they will build two new airports in south Sudan, in the towns of Malakal and Rubeck. South Sudanese have complained for decades that they lack transportation infrastructure. This is a small indication that some of the developmental aid promises made when the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed are finally being fulfilled.

May 19, 2007: A large battle took place between a local defense force and militiamen in South Darfur state, in the town of Abu Surug. Some 120 militiamen took part in the attack. Elsewhere in Darfur, the National Redemption Front (NRF) gunmen were hit by an air force strike, that killed one person, in the town of Malam Hush (West Darfur state). The NRF was also attacked by a janjaweed militia unit attack the Jebel Moon area (West Darfur), an action that killed four civilians.

The UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees called for a complete and independent investigation of a series of attacks in South Darfur state that occurred between January and March 2007. The request followed the publication of a UN report that said that "heavily armed" fighters (some in uniforms) attacked eight different villages in the period. (The entire text is available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/press/docs/periodicreport7.doc and is worth reading in detail) Over 100 people died in the attacks. The villages were inhabited by members of the Tarjum tribe. Members of the Sudan military (including members of the Border Intelligence Guards) were involved in the attacks, but so were members of the Rizeigat Abbala tribes - rivals of the Tarjum. The Rizeigat Abbala tribespeople are mostly herders (pastoralists) and the Tarjum farm as well as herd. What is really interesting are the reasons the report gave for the attacks: control of land. The report said the attackers wished to gain control of farmland and "grazing land" in the area.

Here is an extract from the UN report:

"…witnesses described hundreds of heavily armed attackers, mostly dressed in green or beige khaki uniforms, accompanied by machine gun-equipped Land Cruisers owned by Border Intelligence Guards In many instances, victims in the affected villages, particularly men, knew their attackers by name and independently identified specific Border Intelligence commanders as being present. Witnesses reported that during all the incidents, attackers fired from the outskirts of the settlements with heavy vehicle-mounted machine guns and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), before entering the settlements and targeting any men found inside. They then systematically looted items of value, particularly livestock, before (in most cases) burning large sections of the settlements. Although it could not be confirmed, UNMIS Human Rights received several reports from witnesses about the use of heavy weapons, including mortars, which they were unfamiliar with."

May 13, 2007: The UN believes that the African Union's (AU) Darfur peacekeeping force is near "collapse." The UN wants an immediate reinforcement. The AU peacekeepers are short of supplies. Their internal communications situation is also bad-the force needs new radios and more radios. The UN also accused Sudan of launching new air attacks in Darfur. The UN is also angry over an attack in in late April, that left five AU peacekeepers dead. A Darfur rebel group was believed responsible, and the incident still under investigation.

 

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