This last week I was in Kutum—the first time I have spent more than a day in the north Darfur town since November-December 1985. It was fascinating to be back in the district after a gap of 22 years. The physical landscape is unchanged. The gardens of Wadi Kutum are as beautiful as ever, almost fully cultivated, forming a ribbon of dark green through the dry landscape. After working their gardens in the daytime, the farmers return to Kutum and Fata Borno at dusk to spend the night. The town center itself still consists of the same rows of shabby mud-built stores along one side of the wadi, with the run-down administrative buildings on the hillside opposite. A new mosque is the only sign of change. But most of the surrounding villages are now abandoned, their residents living either in the much-expanded outskirts of Kutum, or in the displaced camps of Kassab and Fata Borno. All was quiet while I was there, but a few days before some gunshots were reported on the outskirts of Kassab, and fifty miles to the north, rebels and government soldiers battled over a small outpost, with eight soldiers reported dead. One of the two […]
This week’s issue of New York magazine gives a shout-out to a next week’s Frontline program, “On Our Watch.” Alex de Waal is one of the people they interview, along with James Traub and Samantha Power.
Six months ago, John Prendergast and I debated the response to Darfur at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This week we continued the debate online, courtesy of Newsweek. It’s a lively exchange and after just two rounds, Newsweek’s deadline was upon us so the editor called time. I would have liked to say more—so I am posting my response to him here.
It goes without saying that Sudanese scholars are the true experts on Darfur’s crisis. The short book edited by Abdel Ghaffar Mohammed Ahmed and Leif Manger, Understanding the Crisis in Darfur: Listening to Sudanese Voices, is an essential resource for those wishing to understand how Sudanese see the conflict and the possible resolution to it.