On UNAMID’s Assessment of Mortality in Darfur

Just how credible are UNAMID monthly mortality figures? Consider the February 2009 figure of 98 violent deaths.

February was the month in which Khartoum’s forces retook the town of Muhajeria in South Darfur, displacing (according to UN reports) more than 30,000 civilians. Some fled toward Nyala, more toward el-Fasher; some fled east. 100,000 civilians in the region were forcibly denied humanitarian assistance by the regime:

“UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Ameerah Haq, calls for immediate access to over 100,000 civilians in Muhajariya, Sheria and Labado areas of South Darfur. International humanitarian agencies have attempted to reach the area four times since 7 February but are unable to obtain clearance for humanitarian flights.” (United Nations Country Team in Sudan, Khartoum, February 12, 2009)

At the time, the implications of this denial of access were all too clear:

“”˜As each day passes, people’s need for assistance increases and the humanitarian imperative to reach them becomes more pressing,’ UN coordinator Toby Lanzer said in [a] statement.” (Reuters [dateline: Khartoum], February 6, 2009]

Were deaths within this forcefully isolated and vulnerable population considered “violent” by UNAMID? How thorough was UNAMID’s surveying of the tens of thousands of displaced persons? Were there any surveys conducted of populations during the dangerous flight from Muhajeria, Labado, Shereia and surrounding villages? Did UNAMID investigate all the bombing attacks reported away from Muhajeria and other larger targets? A large Janjaweed presence was reported to be attacking the fleeing populations: did UNAMID survey the dead in rural areas? How many died subsequently from the consequences of violent displacement? Were surveys conducted in any of the IDP camps to which people fled?

And just how aggressively did UNAMID pursue its mandate as Khartoum retook Muhajeria? One prominent humanitarian organization reports confidentially that UNAMID’s first reaction to Khartoum’s demand that the 190-man contingent withdraw from Muhajeria was to run and abandon the town; in the end they did not, but only because Alain Le Roy, head of UN peacekeeping, made the decision to stay, supported by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. This hardly augurs well for the careful preparation of mortality surveys. Another humanitarian source reported contemporaneously from the Muhajeria area that only the lack of transport prevented UNAMID from completely abandoning the people depending upon them for protection. At the same time, a distinguished humanitarian organization reported confidentially that during the earlier bombing and insecurity around el-Fasher (the week of January 28), “UNAMID appeared to go into lock-down and restrict their movement—at a time when civilian protection and assessment/verification of attacks was needed.” And of course UNAMID has failed to investigate a great many bombing attacks in the more remote areas of North Darfur.

Nor is there a frank acknowledgement of how timid UNAMID is in the face of obstruction by Khartoum. In the course of his December 2008/January 2009 bimonthly report on Darfur, Ban Ki-moon noted, inter alia:

“During the reporting period, UNAMID continued to face restrictions on its freedom of movement. On 10 December 2008, a UNAMID patrol was blocked by Arab militia near Kile Kile (30 kilometres south of Muhajeria, Southern Darfur), who asked to be informed in advance of any patrols in the area. On 31 December, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) denied a UNAMID patrol access to Abu Surug (30 kilometres north-west of El Geneina, Western Darfur) and prevented it from undertaking a routine assessment mission. On 28 January 2009, a UNAMID water escort patrol in Shaariya, Southern Darfur, was stopped at an SAF checkpoint and was not allowed to proceed. It was accused by the SAF commander of providing the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) with equipment and weapons. In another serious development, on the same day a UNAMID patrol was stopped by members of a Chadian armed opposition group in Manzula village, near El Geneina, Western Darfur, and was told that UNAMID must seek permission from the Government of the Sudan to move through the territory.” (§23)

The unhappy truth is that UNAMID is weak, ineffectual, widely despised by Darfuris, and has a clear interest in minimizing mortality so as to make its failure less conspicuous.

I regard 98 “violent deaths” as a deeply misleading figure to cite in assessing current mortality in Darfur, the more so for its absurd precision. We simply don’t have adequate data with which to estimate mortality from violence, let alone all causes. But for those who take seriously the language of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, this does not imply that there is insufficient evidence of genocidal activity:

“In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

[a] Killing members of the group;

[b] Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

[c] Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

[d] Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

[e] Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

All of these acts continue to occur in Darfur and Eastern Chad—all of them. Certainly there have been many changes since the height of violence in 2002-2005, although large-scale violence has continued to be orchestrated by Khartoum on an ethnic basis, even if the Janjaweed are less reliable allies and there are many hundreds fewer surviving villages. But given Khartoum’s expulsion of roughly half the humanitarian capacity in Darfur, and the present onset of the rainy season, we are obliged to take particularly seriously clause 2 [c]: “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Either one sees the relevance of this language to the “conditions of life” endured by 3 million displaced Darfuris—overwhelmingly from non-Arab or African tribal groups—or one is obliged to ignore a very great deal. How many infants died for lack of supplementary or therapeutic feeding directly after the humanitarian expulsions of March (many feeding centers were unstaffed)? How many have died for lack of the primary medical care provided by the expelled sections of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)? How many will die from the communicable diseases that are poised to spread rapidly in camps that have an insufficient number of latrines or adequate latrine maintenance (both critical problems)? How many people will be driven to drink contaminated ground water during the rainy season for lack of adequately maintained water systems? How will food distribution be managed on an ongoing basis without implementing partners? (Nearly all humanitarian officials acknowledge that the current stop-gap measures by the UN’s World Food Program are unsustainable in the longer term.)

Such questions could be multiplied endlessly, and it is in answering them that we will answer the question about continuing genocide in Darfur.

Eric Reeves is a professor at Smith College, Massachusetts. His website is www.sudanreeves.org

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13 thoughts on “On UNAMID’s Assessment of Mortality in Darfur

  1. Dear Eric

    Your posting addresses three questions. One, the credibility of the UNAMID estimates for violent fatalities. Two, the credibility of UNAMID itself, and specifically over the Muhajiriya incident. Three, the question of ongoing genocide. Let me address each of them and bring the facts to bear.

    One, are the figures credible? They are figures from deaths directly caused by violence and do not pretend to cover deaths from all causes. They are incident reports and not a survey. There may also be deaths from hunger and disease. Counting these is not the task of the UNAMID incident reporting system. You cannot dismiss these data on the basis of what they do not try to be and I would have hoped you might have known this elementary methodological fact.

    There are several reasons for believing the reporting system to be credible, in terms of scale and pattern. One, the 2008 UNAMID incident report data have been shown to be highly consistent with estimates for deaths from violence derived from other sources. As UNAMID capacity has expanded each month, the quality of the data has also increased (though there have been some changes to the reporting system, see below). Two, the patterns of violence contained in the data are consistent with field reports. Namely, about one third of the fatalities over the last 17 months have been caused by inter-tribal fights in South Darfur, one third are among combatants, etc. Three, over the last two months I have been involved in consultations that involved representatives from every locality in Darfur, including in movement-held areas and in IDP camps where people could speak absolutely freely (see my posting from Hamadiya). As these meetings began I asked people, on the side, about when the last fatal incident occurred in their area. Most of them started talking about 2003-04. When pressed on recent incidents, what I heard about was a scattering of incidents of robbery, harassment and sexual violence, and almost no killings. The few killings that were mentioned were all in the UNAMID incident database or (if they happened in June) had been reported to UNAMID (and will therefore be in the June figures). This is not a systematic sample but it is a broad one. News travels fast and efficiently within communities and if there had been other, especially bigger, incidents, I am sure they would have been reported.

    I don’t claim that the figures are wholly accurate. As it increases its investigation capacity, UNAMID now only includes the fatalities it has confirmed. There is an unsubstantiated report that JEM executed 11 prisoners after the Karnoi battle. There is a claim that there were some killings when the Chadian rebels fled into Darfur following their defeat by the Chadian army. Most importantly, there was a series of intra-Arab clashes in South Darfur during March between Habbaniya and Fellata, and Rizeigat and Habbaniya, which killed scores of people. There are widely varying figures for these and UNAMID has not verified any figure.

    Imagine a scenario in which UNAMID were reporting only 50% of the deaths. Calculate what it would mean if there were an average of 250 deaths per month in a population of over 7 million people and compare with other situations. The basic fact is that things have changed. There are no hidden massacres of hundreds of African villagers by rampaging Janjawiid. Explanations for this, and for its significance, differ but the fact is indisputable.

    Two, what happened in Muhajiriya. I followed this incident closely, on occasion hour by hour. The facts are these. After the takeover by JEM, the Sudan army amassed forces to recapture the town. It was soon clear that the army had positioned itself for a counter-attack and the local people knew a battle was coming. They began moving towards the UNAMID camp. The Sudan Government requested UNAMID to evacuate, saying that if UNAMID did not comply there was a danger of a confrontation in the course of which UNAMID would be evicted forcibly.

    There was a discussion in New York as to whether UNAMID should withdraw or not. Based on the information it obtained, UNHQ advised on a withdrawal and instructions were transmitted. My own interpretation of this decision is that it reflected an enduring problem between UNHQ and UNAMID in the field, which is that not everyone in New York is comfortable with the African character of UNAMID, and does not trust the command.

    There was also a discussion within UNAMID in Darfur, especially involving the Acting Force Commander, General “KK” Karenzie, who flew to Muhajiriya, and the sector commander in Nyala. These commanders were (to put it mildly) unhappy with the instruction. (Do not overlook the fact that Gen. Karenzie is a Rwandese.) They were backed by the Acting Joint Special Representative, General Henry Anyidoho (the man who refused to evacuate his troops from Rwanda in April 1994, the unacknowledged hero of the UN in Rwanda.) They felt that withdrawal would have major repercussions, both for the fate of the approximately 5,000 civilians who was seeking refuge around the camp, and also for the reputation of the mission as a whole. They also pointed out that the decision to withdraw had been taken without consulting them on the technical feasibility and safety of withdrawal. The airlift capacity available was sufficient for the evacuation of half of the UNAMID unit at one time, and had half been withdrawn, the remaining half would have been very vulnerable to the anger of the people who had congregated around the base. I.e. withdrawal was not a secure option. This fact alone demonstrates that the decision to withdraw was not taken in consultation with the field command. In fact, senior officers and senior civilian staff were talking openly about resigning if the UNHQ insisted on its instructions being carried out.

    It did not come to that. At the same time, the AU Summit was taking place in Addis Ababa. The UN Secretary General and the head of the DPKO were in Addis Ababa. There was a meeting between senior government officials and the UN where this issue was discussed. Faced with the convergence of the reports from the field and wider political considerations, the UN leadership changed its position. At this meeting the Joint Special Representative, Rodolphe Adada made the determination, supported by the SG, after consulting with the Gen. Karenzie, Gen. Anyidoho and the Force Commander (who was out of Sudan) to reverse the instruction to withdraw. Adada left the summit early to return to Khartoum to tell the Government that UNAMID would not withdraw. In turn this contributed to the confidence between UNAMID and JEM which led directly to the withdrawal of JEM allowing the town to change hands without a fight. This speaks well to the political capability of UNAMID and the determination of its African leadership.

    If you seriously allege that Gen. Karenzie and Gen. Anyidoho intended to “run and abandon the town,” I challenge you to have the courage to name names and say it to their faces.

    The problems of UNAMID do not stem from its African character or its relation to the Sudan Government. They fundamentally stem from the design and objectives of the mission which derive from an inadequate analysis of Darfur.

    Third, on the question of evidence for ongoing genocide, I have to say that this reminds me of the claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Of course there once were such weapons, but some individuals in the U.S. government refused to believe that they were gone. Instead of evidence driven policy making, we had policy driven evidence making. The debate about “ongoing genocide” in Darfur is similar. Of course there were atrocities. Now the killing has massively reduced. The question we should be asking ourselves is, how did this happen? Who should be credited with (almost) stopping the killing?

    You write there are no recent reliable mortality surveys. That is correct. But I have seen famines in different places including Darfur and believe me, there is no famine in Darfur today. I have spoken with and listened to hundreds of people from every corner of Darfur, many of them speaking in the absence of anyone associated with the government, speaking without hesitation about their suffering, and there have been numerous complaints about lack of services, poor living conditions, insecurity, illegal land occupation, lack of law and order, etc. But there have not been complaints of famine. People complained about the expulsion of the international NGOs, but chiefly to make a political point, not to say that this was a harbinger of famine. John Holmes had it right when he said that there was no evidence of any excess deaths on account of the expulsion of the NGOs. That doesn’t mean there were none, just that there has been no widespread crisis reflected in significantly increased morbidity and mortality. With good rains, a further increase in cultivation, and continued improvement in farmer-pastoralist relations, food security in Darfur overall will continue its slow upward trend.

    When the international NGOs were expelled they left nearly 2,000 Sudanese professionals unemployed. They left 41 schools without funding. They left clinics without medicine. Feeding for undernourished children was disrupted. These are serious problems demanding redress. Are they genocide? I have asked some of the Rwandese soldiers with UNAMID, who have seen genocide, what they think of the “ongoing genocide” claim and they simply laugh.

    How do I prove a negative? You quote predictions of disaster, not assessments of what has happened. You speculate about how many might die based on little more than your preconceptions.

    Your argument trivializes genocide. What are you going to say when there really is a genocide? Escalating the rhetoric and insisting on trying to find “genocide” is setting expectations unreasonably high, which among other things implies that anything less than genocide means “things are OK.” Things can be absolutely intolerable without genocide.

    Your argument misrepresents and in reality overlooks the very real problems, miseries and challenges facing Darfurians, including the bitter and traumatic legacy of the atrocities of the 2003-04 period, and the frustrations of those living suspended in IDP camps for five or six years. These issues should not be minimized.

    Eric, in conclusion, I hope your health improves sufficiently for you to come to Darfur and see for yourself. I have seen and heard evidence for very serious problems including major human rights abuses. I have neither seen nor heard anything that would give any serious indication of “ongoing genocide.”

  2. Politico-legal ventriloquism: Prof Reeves (Smith College, MA) speaks as Prof Ocampo (ex-Harvard Law School, MA), or perhaps it is the other way round.

  3. The questions I pose about violent mortality as represented in UNAMID figures seem to me largely unanswered, so I will simply repose them. I am convinced that the answer to all these questions is “no,” and this serves to highlight just how limited a mortality figure UNAMID is producing. Noting that “100,000 civilians in the [Muhajeria] region were forcibly denied humanitarian assistance by the regime,” I asked:

    “Were deaths within this forcefully isolated and vulnerable population considered ‘violent’ by UNAMID? How thorough was UNAMID’s surveying of the tens of thousands of displaced persons? Were there any surveys conducted of populations during the dangerous flight from Muhajeria, Labado, Shereia and surrounding villages? Did UNAMID investigate all the bombing attacks reported away from Muhajeria and other larger targets? A large Janjaweed presence was reported to be attacking the fleeing populations: did UNAMID survey the dead in rural areas? How many died subsequently from the consequences of violent displacement? Were surveys conducted in any of the IDP camps to which people fled?”

    If the answers to all these questions are indeed “no,” if what UNAMID is reporting are only specific violent deaths investigated in situ, then tabulated, and promulgated monthly with predictable “accuracy,” then it is a severely attenuated account of what I would argue should fall under the broader heading of “total violent mortality in Darfur.” But let’s at least be specific about what we are excluding. This isn’t about “methodology,” but about clarity.

    Concerning the events surrounding and defining the behavior of UNAMID in Muhajeria in early February, I stand by the confidential accounts provided to me by humanitarian organizations and workers operating in the area at the time, as well as in el-Fasher (with no conflict of interest of the sort clearly at play in UN and UNAMID accounts). You declare: “I challenge you to have the courage to name names and say it to their faces.” It is not a matter of courage on my part, but rather the essential discretion necessary to preserve the confidentiality of my sources—so sensitive that I cannot even identify the organizations to the extent of saying whether they were among those expelled in early March. They are the ones who gathered evidence that UNAMID command was preparing to exit precipitously; they are the ones who found the week before the attack on Muhajeria that “UNAMID [in el-Fasher] appeared to go into lock-down and restrict their movement—at a time when civilian protection and assessment/verification of attacks was needed.” I am completely dependent upon such sources, even as I have an absolute obligation to preserve confidentiality. This isn’t a matter, as you disingenuously suggest, of “courage.” No doubt the “fog of war” had partially descended over events, and their sequence may be disputed; but simply to deny the relevance of the views of deeply concerned aid organizations and workers on the ground, including near Muhajeria, is irresponsible.

    Nor am I suggesting that UNAMID is failing because it is African—another unwarranted inference on your part. UNAMID is failing because it is so exclusively African, even in areas where African nations are particularly weak (engineering battalions, civilian police and Formed Police Units)—and because militarily capable Western nations have been so scandalously laggard and stingy in providing logistical, technical, and transport support and equipment. But there can hardly be any doubt about my characterization of UNAMID as it stands:

    “weak, ineffectual, widely despised by Darfuris, and has a clear interest in minimizing mortality so as to make its failure less conspicuous.”

    It should be a source of shame that as we approach the second anniversary of passage of what was the long-anticipated authorizing resolution for a Darfur peace support operation (July 2007), Rodolphe Adada, Special Joint Representative of the UN and African Union to UNAMID, recently estimated in a briefing before the Security Council that the force “was operating at roughly one third of its full capability” (SC/9644 April 27, 2009). And even this percentage seems to me excessively optimistic on the basis of what is reported publicly and confidentially. Were a cease-fire to be negotiated between Khartoum and JEM, for example, UNAMID would presently be thoroughly incapable of monitoring it effectively, even as a durable and well-enforced cease-fire is the sine qua non for meaningful negotiations with JEM and possibly Abdel Wahid el-Nur.

    On the question of “ongoing genocide” in Darfur, you simply refuse—as you have repeatedly—to address the specific language of the Genocide Convention, and particularly the clause on the destruction of livelihoods. The question is not answered by implicitly declaring that people who have lost their farms, their lands, their villages, their wealth, and often their families nonetheless continue to live tenuously in concentrations that could easily become death camps in the wake of humanitarian expulsions. This is especially true given the rate of continued violent displacement: according to the UN, over 300,000 people were displaced in 2008 alone, most of them violently, many for the second or third time. This hardly comports with monthly violent mortality figures from UNAMID. Moreover, Khartoum continues to make no secret of its desire to dismantle the camps, no matter what the consequences for displaced persons; indeed, the humanitarian expulsions were designed in part to accelerate what would certainly be a disastrous, I would argue genocidal, program of forced repatriation.

    You accuse me of being glib and superficial: “You quote predictions of disaster, not assessments of what has happened. You speculate about how many might die based on little more than your preconceptions.” This is simply untrue. See, for example, two lengthy analyses (each running to almost 10,000 words) detailing the consequences of the March humanitarian expulsions, published at The Sudan Tribune (“Darfur Humanitarian Expulsions, Two Months On,” May 4, 2009 at http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article31163 and “Khartoum’s Expulsion of Humanitarian Organizations, March 16, 2009 at http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article30643). These reflect not my “preconceptions,” as you would have it, but a reading of all extant literature and reports by humanitarian organizations, both nongovernmental and UN; public statements by senior humanitarian officials; and numerous private conversations with humanitarian workers and those responsible for humanitarian operations. Citations are numerous, various, and copious— indeed, form the substance of the two essays. I have here and elsewhere surveyed in detail as well retrospective accounts of what “has happened.” Your dismissiveness of my research amounts to ignorance in this case. Most perversely, you conclude that I

    “…misrepresent[] and in reality overlook[] the very real problems, miseries and challenges facing Darfurians, including the bitter and traumatic legacy of the atrocities of the 2003-04 period, and the frustrations of those living suspended in IDP camps for five or six years. These issues should not be minimized.”

    I find it astonishing and deeply offensive that given what I have written and published widely for almost six years about conditions in Darfur, about the intense suffering among the people, about conditions in the camps, about humanitarian conditions throughout the region, including rural areas, you can conclude that I have “overlooked” the realities and problems of Darfuris. But perhaps excluding my narrative account is necessary for the “new Darfur narrative” you seem so intent on fashioning. You previously argued, including through Justice Africa (June 18, 2004), that genocide was clearly occurring in Darfur; this has been reduced to, “Of course there were atrocities. Now the killing has massively reduced.” Without attending in detail to the grim and persistent threats to lives caused by the ethnically-targeted destruction of livelihoods, this simplistic formulation becomes symptomatic your deeply distorting “new narrative” about Darfur’s most recent history.

    Eric Reeves

  4. Professor Reeves is trying to justify his aggressive and interventionist policy in Darfur against the analysis of seasoned scholars and Sudan experts. He can maybe fool innocent American high school students but not people with knowledge about the situation in Darfur and Sudan in general. With Obama in the drivers seat in the US, I hope that mr. Reeves and his cronies soon will be considered history so a real solution of the Darfur tragedy will have a chance: It is mainly the Sudanese themselves who will cooperate in order to create a solution to this problem.

  5. So Darfurian IDPs are ready to speak out and have their names published on incredibly sensitive or even explosive issues such as self-determination and the ICC. Prof. Reeves, why are you hiding behind “confidentiality” of sources on a topic that is already discussed in the public realm?

  6. Cut and paste, cut and paste. As Dr. Al-Tahir al-Faki put it in his comment yesterday the question is political and moreover a complex of political dynamics and contradictions that can not be reduced to these kinds of asinine simplifications. We know in bald terms what has happened in Darfur and we don’t need to be told over and over and over again. What we need is a political analysis that captures the dynamics of what is happening now which of course includes the legacies of the past and the socio-political transformations unleashed by those processes and their impacts. Rehearsing the creed of “ongoing genocide” and resorting to every more Jesuitical arguments is precisely the kind of political infantilism that is so destructive of any progressive political agenda or attempt to resolve the problem. President Mbeki precisely captured this when he said that we should not operate on the basis of a dream which is not going to be realised.

  7. Dear Mr. Reeves,

    The information you use in your analysis seems to derive purely from humanitarian organisations and the UN. These agencies’ analyses predicted widespread and total disaster for Darfurians following the expulsion of 13 agencies, which has obviously not happened. When you say “100,000 civilians in the [Muhajeria] region were forcibly denied humanitarian assistance by the regime” for example, what does that mean really? How much life-saving assistance did that assistance provide in the first place? Alex de Waal undertook excellent research years ago in Darfur, on how humanitarian agencies overesitmate their importance to communities.

    And you have used the same kinds of sources on the UNAMID withdrawal. Perhaps you should try to talk to a variety of stakeholders, including UNAMID personnel?

    Best wishes,


  8. If Eric reeves actually cared for Darfur,rather then beeing the war mongerer he actually is he would be pleased to here that the violence in Darfur is subsiding.
    However it does not surprise me that a person who has made a living off manipulating and carachaturing the conflict in Darfur would try and trample on the tentative shoots of peace.

  9. P.s. Prof. Reeves’ methodology is worthy of examination. It is fundamentally a textual critique, using selected English language sources. Perhaps appropriately for a professor of literature, the text qua text is the object of analysis, not the reality it purportedly represents. One of the special tics of north American academia, at its point of contact with popular culture, is its resort to argument from authority. e.g. “Nobel Laureate X” or “UN high ranking official Y”, in place of argument from evidence and logic. Prof. Reeves uses this with unashamed selectivity. Combined with its lack of history, it is a methodology appropriate to exegesis not political inquiry which goes far to explaining its endless recursiveness, self-referentiality and obliviousness to the the dynamics of socio-political reality.

  10. For Mohanda Elbalal and his fellow-travellers:

    Every dime I have “made” in working for Sudan over the past decade—from lecture honoraria, stipends for published articles, book royalties, and human rights awards—has gone directly to humanitarian organizations working throughout Sudan, including Darfur, the East, the transitional areas, and Southern Sudan. I have devoted substantial financial resources of my own in pursuit of a just peace for Sudan. But I suppose this means little to those so willing to write and speak on the basis of ignorance, and why I can’t be bothered—with this exception—to respond to the many fatuous and finally vacuous posts I seem to attract.

    Eric Reeves

  11. Dear Eric,

    UNAMID has issued no official figures for deaths from lethal violence or any other causes for May. I am describing what is contained in the incident reports. So the issue of UNAMID “motive” doesn’t arise.

    UNAMID’s mandate does not extend to humanitarian affairs. Humanitarian issues remain with the UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan. The UNAMID Joint Mission Analysis Centre compiles and analyzes reports of security incidents, a subset of which involves fatalities from violence. The UN humanitarian coordinator conducts (or doesn’t) surveys of mortality from other causes.

    You campaigned vigorously for a large UN force with a Chapter 7 mandate for Darfur. I am surprised that you don’t acknowledge when this force does something right, thereby giving credit to your position. I was sceptical about such a force for many reasons but I am ready to revise my opinion and concede that it is exceeding my low expectations.

    A UN force comes as a package. It is important to understand the structure of UNAMID and the mismatch between its force composition and capacity, and non-military components, and what it is required to do.

    UNAMID has a Chapter 7 mandate (in part) but is still bound by (a) standard operating rules for Chapter 6 missions (e.g. with regard to levels of security alert and what it should do as a routine response to specific levels of alert, which are set elsewhere in the UN system) and (b) a force composition that was the outcome of political bargaining rather than analysis of what is actually required on the ground (e.g. with regard to the predominance of formed police units in its police component). Due in part to the UN contracting procedures, it was many months before UNAMID performance reached and surpassed AMIS, at much greater financial cost. Due to the UN security alert system, on several occasions (including July 2008 and around the time of Muhajiriya) standard security procedures were followed which involve measures such as evacuations and preparations for evacuations, which in my view are far too rigid and often unnecessary. What this means is that if UNAMID is to prevail, it has to struggle as much against the constraints of its mandate and rules, as against the natural environment and the politics and security challenges.

    The facts of what happened in Muhajiriya are that UNAMID stayed, and that the commanders in the field insisted that it stay.

    I wrote of your reliance on speculations and not empirics with reference to the last few months, which have not been as you describe, not the previous six years. I have seen the humanitarian assessments and other data from the last few months and in addition over the last couple of months I have met with representatives of almost every locality in Darfur, a number of movement-held areas, and all but two IDP camps. That’s what I use in drawing my conclusions.

  12. It never fails that people so steeped in their racism repeat the ‘ ..if so-and-so “really cared about ..” mantra. For these racists, it is inconcievable that anyone would care an iota about whatever happeded to an abid not to mention make such an effort to shine a light on their doings.

  13. Professor Reeves condemns UNAMID on the basis of an unnamed source, which speculated that UNAMID was about to do something which it did not in the event actually do. He condemns the Government of the Sudan for killings which have been neither reported nor certified, but which he alleges happens because it is logical that they might have happened and because there is an absence of proof that they did not happen. I hope indeed that this is not the same logic employed by Prof. Moreno Ocampo.

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