Sudan: Rhetoric versus Reality in Darfur
New York, December 2, 2008 - Recent claims by the Sudanese government that the situation in Darfur is improving are not borne out by reality, fifteen organizations said in a report released today. In an effort to bolster their argument that the U.N. Security Council should suspend the International Criminal Court's (ICC) consideration of an arrest warrant against President Omar al-Bashir, Sudan has contended that there have been serious improvements in Darfur. The ICC prosecutor is scheduled to brief the Security Council on December 3, 2008, about the progress of his investigation.
In stark contrast to Khartoum's claims, the 22 page report, "Rhetoric vs. Reality - the Situation in Darfur," prepared by a coalition of nongovernmental organizations - including the Save Darfur Coalition, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch - documents the lack of progress in Darfur in recent months regarding security, the humanitarian situation, the deployment of peacekeepers and domestic justice.
Following the July 14 announcement by the ICC prosecutor that he was requesting a warrant for the arrest of President Bashir on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, his administration began a diplomatic campaign aimed at convincing Security Council members to suspend the case against him. The government has made a number of public statements proclaiming its willingness to pursue justice in national courts and to achieve peace in Darfur, and has claimed that the situation on the ground there has improved. President Bashir claimed in a televised interview on October 17, that the situation in Darfur is now "very normal."
"The situation in Darfur is far from what the world would define as 'normal'," said Julia Fromholz, Director of the Crimes Against Humanity Program at Human Rights First. "Millions of people are living under daily threat of violence and are dependent on humanitarian aid that is hindered or entirely blocked by ongoing insecurity and endless bureaucratic hurdles."
The report describes the ongoing insecurity in Darfur. Between July and October 2008, government bombing and fighting in North Darfur led to the displacement of some 90,000 people. In October government forces and allied militia carried out attacks on at least 13 villages near Muhajariya, South Darfur, in which at least 44 civilians were reportedly killed. Even in November, following the government