Several sources indicated that Khartoum is not decreasing the level of its violence in Darfur. ’President’ Bashir said that his government would not relent on its rejection of UN peacekeeping troops in Darfur and repeated his claim that only 10,000 people have died since the 'crisis' began in 2003. He compared the idea of a UN troop deployment to the invasion of Iraq by US-led forces in that same year. And in a major indication of Khartoum’s continuing (and successful) resistance to international pressure, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative to Sudan, Jan Pronk, was expelled from Darfur for commenting on low army moral on his blog.
Some 63 people have been brutally killed in the last two weeks. The attacks have included the burning alive of civilians with at least 27 of the victims thought to be children under 12. While Khartoum claims the deaths were the results of attempts to disarm the janjaweed, BBC observers stress that the opposite is the case. These attacks are thought to have affected up to 7,000 other civilians, many of who have fled over the border into Chad.
Human Rights Watch drew attention to attempts by the Sudanese leadership to step up repression on freedom of speech and independent press coverage of Darfur. Two humanitarian convoys have come under attack in South Darfur while attempting to deliver vital relief supplies. Events have moved Eric Reeves to argue that a ‘final onslaught’ is taking place as militias began to stage attacks against displaced civilian camps.
It emerged that the African Union has been paying members of rebel groups and the Sudanese army to negotiate across areas that it does not control to the tune of $1 million a year. AU access to much of Darfur continues to be highly restricted. At the same time it is becoming clear that the role of China in the Sudanese economy has boomed, allowing Khartoum to work around existing oil embargoes and continue its policy of genocidal racial cleansing.
Evidence grows that Sudanese-backed insurgents are destabilising Chad by launching attacks on towns there. This is despite growing testimony that Sudanese troops fighting in Darfur are seriously unhappy with the war they are being instructed to fight. Interviews with Sudanese soldiers confirmed that atrocities had been committed on a massive scale and also attested to Jan Pronk’s comments about low moral among Khartoum’s uniformed troops.