International Crisis Group
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1. The Current Situation
2. What Needs to Be Done
3. Crisis Group Analysis
4. Current Information on the Humanitarian Situation
5. News & Other Reporting
6. International and Local NGOs Working on Darfur
7. Important Documents
8. What You Can Do

Photo: Village in North Darfur, November 2004. Finbarr O'Reilly/REUTERS.


updated May 2007

1. The Current Situation

UN Security Council Resolution 1706, passed on 31 August 2006, extended to Darfur the mandate of the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which currently has 10,000 in-country personnel monitoring the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The resolution "invited" Khartoum's consent to the deployment of 20,600 UN peacekeepers to the region – a consent which Khartoum refused to give.  A reinforced UNMIS would take over from the African Union's (AU) currently overstretched African Mission in Sudan (AMIS).  A compromise was reached in November 2006, which consisted of three phases of UN assistance to AMIS – a light support package, a heavy support package, and eventually a "hybrid" AU-UN force. On 16 April 2007 the Government in Sudan in Khartoum accepted the UN heavy support package – allowing up to 3,000 UN personnel in Darfur to assist the AU troops, as well as helicopters and armoured personnel carriers, and on 12 June 2007, they accepted the proposal for the AU-UN hybrid force.  Despite these acceptances, there is much skepticism around whether the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) will allow timely implementation.

The security, human rights and security situation in Darfur has deteriorated since Sudan’s government and one of three rebel factions signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) on 5 May 2006. Conflict has intensified, with further government reliance on aerial bombardment and on its allied – and "re-supplied and rearmed", according to the AU Ceasefire Commission – Janjaweed militia. Aid agencies warned that attacks by armed groups had destabilised the region further in December 2006 and forced the evacuation of up to 400 staff, while up to 100 were killed and thousands displaced after mid-February 2007 tribal clashes in South Darfur. With support from Chad and Eritrea, elements of the rebel groups that did not sign the DPA regrouped as the National Redemption Front (NRF) and since late June 2006 have launched a series of attacks. UN Special Envoy Jan Pronk was expelled from Sudan after making comments noting that the Sudan Armed Forces was suffering from defeats and low morale. The lone rebel signatory of the DPA – the Sudan Liberation Army faction of Minni Minnawi (SLA/MM) – has been increasingly acting as a paramilitary wing of the Sudanese army. Internal displacement continues, with more than 250,000 more internally displaced persons registered in January 2007 than a year previously. Violence against women has surged, with more than 200 instances of sexual assault in five weeks around Kalma camp in South Darfur alone in September/October 2006. April 2007 was the bloodiest month for AMIS since 2004 deployment, with seven soldiers killed. The human security consequences of the Darfur conflict have extended well beyond its borders with hundreds killed in the east of neighbouring Chad and another 120,000 displaced.

The international community must think creatively to secure a lasting settlement. More peacekeepers on the ground and an effective ceasefire are essential but so is revitalising the neglected political process.  This should be done through a joint AU/UN mediation which needs to unify the rebels so they can negotiate coherently; broaden participation in negotiations; and strengthen the negotiating structure. In addition, implementation of the DPA must be frozen, pending new negotiations. Khartoum will continue to pursue a military solution and defy its obligations unless it is forced to change its calculations. The only way that will happen is through multilateral punitive measures. Without intense international engagement and cooperation, the crisis will continue ravaging Darfur and destabilising the entire region.

To read Crisis Group's latest report in full, see Darfur: Revitalising the Peace Process, Africa Report N°125, 30 April 2007.

For a brief history of the conflicts in Sudan, please click here.

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2. What Needs to Be Done

The international community must continue to press for the establishment of a functioning ceasefire and the deployment of the AU/UN hybrid force, but of equal importance is the revitalisation of the moribund peace process. Necessary new peace talks would be best served by freezing further efforts to apply the DPA’s political and wealth-sharing provisions. The AU/UN mediation team should prepare for the next round of talks by building international consensus, working to unify the rebel movements, broadening participation from key Darfur constituencies and drawing lessons learned from the mediation process on the CPA.

However, for this mediation approach to work, a fundamental adjustment is required in the international approach to Khartoum. The U.S., China, other members of the UN Security Council and member states of the AU and UN should now:

  • apply effective pressure on all sides – but particularly on the NCP – to abandon attempts to achieve a military victory;
  • support the AU/UN mediation as the sole international forum for pursuing a peaceful Darfur settlement;
  • develop consensus for a political strategy, including the application of punitive measures against those responsible.

The same international actors should continue to follow Crisis Group’s existing recommendations, that is:

  • apply targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes and travel bans, to key NCP leaders who have already been identified by UN-sponsored investigations as responsible for atrocities in Darfur and encourage divestment campaigns;
  • authorise through the Security Council a forensic accounting firm or a panel of experts to investigate the offshore accounts of the NCP and NCP-affiliated businesses so as to pave the way for economic sanctions against the regime’s commercial entities, the main conduit for financing NCP-allied militias in Darfur;
  • explore sanctions on aspects of Sudan’s petroleum sector, the NCP’s main source of revenue for waging war in Darfur, to include at least bars on investment and provision of technical equipment and expertise; and
  • begin immediate planning for enforcing a no-fly zone over Darfur by French and U.S. assets in the region, with additional NATO support; obtaining consent of the Chad government to deploy a rapid-reaction force to that country’s border with Sudan; and planning on a contingency basis for a non-consensual deployment to Darfur if political and diplomatic efforts fail to change government policies, and the situation on the ground worsens.

To read Crisis Group's latest report in full, see Darfur: Revitalising the Peace Process, Africa Report N°125, 30 April 2007.

For Crisis Group's most recent commentary on the situation in Darfur, see Crisis Group President Gareth Evans's Keynote Address to International Crisis Group/Save Darfur Coalition/European Policy Centre Conference, Towards a Comprehensive Settlement for Darfur, Brussels, 22 January 2007: "Darfur: What Next?" and speech by David Mozersky "Planning for Peace in Darfur".

Gareth Evans and Human Rights Watch's Executive Director Kenneth Roth renewed the call for extending sanctions in a joint press release issued on 13 December 2006: "Darfur Demands Sanctions, Not Words". An op-ed published in March 2007 furthers the case for sanctions: "Darfur Needs More Than Words".

Also in 2007, Crisis Group Co-Chair Chris Patten and Board Members Joschka Fischer and Pat Cox wrote a series of commentary articles for newspapers across Europe, highlighting the need for stiffer EU sanctions against Khartoum.

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3. Crisis Group Analysis

Crisis Group recent reports

For other reports on Sudan, please visit our Sudan country page.

Recent articles and opinion pieces by Crisis Group

For a month by month report on the conflicts in Sudan since September 2003, check Crisis Group's CrisisWatch database.

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4. Current Information on the Humanitarian Situation

The humanitarian situation remains catastrophic, due to ongoing state-sponsored violence, layers of aid obstruction, the lack of an overall humanitarian strategic plan, and the weakened state of displaced Sudanese. Refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), a disproportionate number of them women, are in terribly weakened states, subject to sexual abuse and without adequate shelter. The numbers of at-risk civilians continue to increase. And as need far outstrips the ability of agencies to deliver aid, and access is restricted due to instability, localised famine is feared.

The Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan publishes weekly roundups of the situation in Darfur and more frequent sitreps. Click on the following links to access the reports:

Other reports

Further information and reports on the humanitarian situation can be found at:

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5. News & Other Reporting

Crisis Group presents here a never before shown Arabic-language documentary (with English subtitles) filmed by the Al-Arabiya Channel, entitled "Jihad on Horseback". The documentary contains testimonies from Darfur refugees residing in camps in both Chad and Sudan, interviews with Janjaweed leader Mussa Hilal, government officials and rebel leaders.
 
Click here to see the film.

To order a DVD copy of the documentary send us an e-mail with your name and address. Please let us know if you want the Arabic version or the one subtitled in English.

Recent television reporting on the situation in Darfur

Major sources with regular reports and RSS feeds

Blogs and Dedicated Darfur News Sites

Reports by other organisations on Sudan

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6. International and Local NGOs Working on Darfur

The following is a non-exhaustive list of organisations working on Darfur issues in a campaigning, advocacy or other policy-related capacity. See here for a list of humanitarian aid agencies working in the region.

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7. Important Documents

For a more complete list of important documents, please click here.

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8. What You Can Do

Contact your elected representative - Write a letter or email to advise your elected representative of your views of the Darfur crisis. A selection of countries with links to their governing institutions and contact details are listed here.

Write to your newspaper - Write a letter to the editor of your national newspaper urging your support for increased international engagement in Darfur. A selection of international newspapers is listed here, with email addresses to their letters pages.

Post a blog comment – Share your opinion about the situation in Darfur on a weblog (or blog).  You can post a comment of your own to raise awareness about Darfur or contribute to an ongoing discussion about the conflict.  You can write directly to the author of the blog or the blog itself.  Click here for a list of blogs that include commentary on international issues.

Tell a colleague - Email your friends and colleagues about the conflict. Click here to go to our "tell a colleague" page. Insert a message, or copy our message at the top of this page and email it. The more people who are aware of deteriorating situation in Darfur, the better our ability to get the international community to respond.

Inform yourself about the crisis - Read Crisis Group's publications and other reporting on Sudan, details of which are set out below.

Donate to organisations working in Sudan - A selection of aid and humanitarian organisations working in Sudan is listed here with links to their websites, where you can donate to their efforts to deal with the humanitarian problems in Sudan. The list is not exhaustive, and is not intended as an endorsement of any particular organisation. You are of course also very welcome to make a donation to our own International Crisis Group: we are an analysis and advocacy organisation rather than an aid-delivery one, but we depend  very much on public support, as well as grants from governments and foundations, to carry on our work of conflict prevention and resolution.  For more information about what Crisis Group has been doing, click here.

See also this recent op-ed on what you can do to make a difference in Darfur:


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