"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Briefings

5 December 2006

The Norwegian Refugee Council, who had been providing humanitarian relief for 300,000 Internally Displaced People in South Darfur, were expelled from Sudan by the government who claimed they had published false reports on rape. Meanwhile, the Sudan Liberation Movement’s Minni Minawi, who had been the only rebel leader to sign the May’s Darfur Peace Agreement, threatened to pull out if Khartoum continued to back regional militias, including the janjaweed.

Mohamed el-Samani el-Wasila, Sudan’s Foreign Minister, alleged that 80% of Darfur was free of fighting and that violence in Chad was unrelated to conflict in Sudan. Incredibly Sudan’s leader Omar al-Bashir claimed that ‘not even 9,000’ people have been killed in Darfur in the last four years of fighting. Khartoum repeated its denials of involvement with the janjaweed, labeling them ‘outlaws’. Bashir also phoned Tony Blair and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to personally reject any UN forces or UN command of African forces. UN assistance would only be accepted in logistical and technical capacities, as had been intimated previously.

British Conservative leader David Cameron paid a short visit to Darfur and called for a strong international presence there to enforce the will of the ‘international community’. It emerged that the UK Home Office is sending asylum seekers from Darfur back to the Sudan if they are ‘ordinary non-Arab ethnic Darfuris’. 900 of 995 applications for asylum from Sudan were turned down in 2006. In one case Dr Halim Basheer (not her real name), who ran a clinic in Darfur, was gang-raped by janjaweed members after complaining to aid workers that 40 girls had been raped in an attack on their village. She has since been refused asylum and sent back to Darfur. It was also revealed that Salah Abdallah ‘Gosh’, Sudan’s intelligence chief and a former associate of Osama bin Laden who was famously feted by the American government, has been allowed to enter the UK twice for ‘treatment’ and discussions on Al-Qaida. This is despite a UN panel’s recommendation two years ago that he face international sanctions.

Attacks on Chad were said by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to be endangering the humanitarian lifeline on which hundreds of thousands of Darfurians and Chadians currently depend. As he prepared to leave his position, outgoing UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland stressed that the international community was not living up to its promises on Darfur and had missed crucial opportunities to make a difference in 2003 and 2004. He also emphasised that humanitarian relief was being deliberately hindered by Khartoum. These comments were backed up by recently-expelled head of the UN operation in Sudan Jan Pronk – who placed the responsibility for violence in Darfur firmly on the Sudanese government and its commitment to a military ‘solution’