The Downward Spiral: There's that old joke -- The pessimist says, "This is awful. It cannot possibly get any worse." The optimist responds, "Oh, yes it can."
The situation in Darfur has already been determined to be genocide (at least by U.S. officials and others who are paying attention). The ceasefire has yet to cease any firepower. Now the situation is in danger of deteriorating. The latest from the Coalition for Darfur.
The Descent into Anarchy
One week ago, experts and observers warned that Darfur risked "sliding into a perpetual state of lawlessness." At a time when Khartoum and the Darfur rebels were preparing to meet in an attempt to move the essentially non-existent peace process forward, IRIN was reporting:Banditry and continuous attacks by armed groups on humanitarian workers, Arab nomads and villages in Darfur have increased significantly over the past weeks and threaten to destabilise the fragile ceasefire in the volatile western Sudanese region.The "fragile ceasefire" has never really existed and fears of "perpetual" lawlessness are misplaced considering that Darfur has been essentially lawless for more than two years.
Last week, the World Food Program reported that "security levels deteriorated in Darfur during the reporting week." This week, the WFP reported that "despite precautionary security measures, attacks on commercial and humanitarian vehicles continue in Darfur."
And as the UN was expressing its concern "about the recurrent attacks carried out by armed men and gangs in Darfur states, which target civilians and commercial vehicles hired by relief organizations," Norwegian Church Aid was reporting that a "relief convoy has been raided at gunpoint by bandits in Darfur for the second time in a short period. The security situation in Darfur shows signs of deterioration":A growing problem is also that aid convoys are now being ambushed with increasing regularity by bandits on horses and camels. Norwegian Church Aid vehicles have been raided at gunpoint twice in a matter of weeks ... The field teams who travel most often through the western and southern parts of Darfur regularly encounter en route, and are often chased by, heavily armed men riding on horses and camels. Since the aid operation began just over a year ago, security has presented a great challenge for the agencies. Yet whereas assault, exchanges of fire and attacks on villages were previously politically motivated, much of the violence seems now to be criminal in nature.And the violence continues.
Just yesterday, it was reported that 40 were killed in fighting after an attack on the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Army by "armed nomadic tribesmen" [aka "the Janjaweed"]. This was followed by another report that 80 government soldiers had been killed by the SLM when they captured the town of Sheiria in a surprise attack in retaliation for earlier government attacks on rebel-held territory.
The attack on Sheiria put at risk some 33,000 civilians who rely on humanitarian assistance after staff from three NGO's were withdrawn due to the fighting. And for good measure, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) "reported that the security situation in the Kalma camp housing displaced persons has further deteriorated with a large number of security incidents, including some 60 reported attacks on women over the last week alone."
All of this took place while the sixth round of peace talks were being held in Nigeria.
It has now been more than a year since the United States declared the situation in Darfur a "genocide" - and the security situation on the ground is now even arguably worse. While government-orchestrated attacks on civilians have diminished, mainly because "there are not many villages left to burn down and destroy," the rampant insecurity in all likelihood still qualifies as part of Khartoum's genocidal campaign to "deliberately [inflict] on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."
The genocide is not ending and the situation is not improving. The people of Darfur have, for all intents and purposes, been abandoned.