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October 23, 2008

From a friend who is working in Darfur...

South Darfur: the state apparatus on display. If ever there is further need for more evidence to suggest Ocampo's charges are warranted, what better than looking at the behavior of the authorities in South Darfur at this very time.

Even post ICC charges against President Bashir, which cite the President as being responsible for creating a state apparatus designed to malign and persecute specific populations, the state continues to obstruct vital aid and block commercial transport to locations inhabited by vulnerable populations.

The UN has identified a "serious problem in South Darfur" regarding the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) and National Security, which UN officials say are obstructing NGOs from accessing vulnerable populations, especially Zaghawa, Fur and Masalit populations; the three tribes Ocampo accused Bashir of carrying out acts of genocide against.

Officials say HAC has blocked money, food, shelter items, humanitarian staff and water to specific areas with HAC officials now describing opposition areas or areas inhabited by the three aforementioned tribes as "prohibited areas".

The level of aggression from HAC towards the UN is once again very high. Last December the High Commissioner of the HAC expelled the Head of UN OCHA South Darfur (Wael Ibrahim) through Head of South Darfur State (Wali) validation. The expulsion was highly publicized and, much to the embarrassment of the UN, was never justified with any solid evidence against Mr Ibrahim. Instead, there were only false accusations and references to Mr Ibrahim's Canadian/Palestinian roots. Most informed UN officials say Mr. Ibrahim was guilty only of doing his job too well.

In August/September this year it seems there was another such incident evolving, with the current head of office being threatened with expulsion, for much the same reasons. What it seems prevented the process continuing was the level of publicity at the time about the Sudanese Armed Forces attack on Kalma internally displaced person camp in which at least 40 of those who had fled from their homes for safety had found what they thought was refuge.
Though officials in Khartoum say they have identified a "problem in South Darfur", even identifying the Head of HAC as the problem in regard to the harassment, interrogations, abuse and obstruction of aid workers, yet nothing has been done to rectify it.

On the contrary, one senior UN New York official stated that the Head of HAC in south Darfur in fact says he is acting under the authority of Khartoum and the Wali directly.

Surely now it is obvious Sudan has created state authorities in Darfur, most clearly in South Darfur, which are designed to obstruct. No longer can the excuse be given that the system is just fragile and therefore susceptible to mistakes. The "mistakes" are too consistent, too much in line, too coincidental in their constant effects on specific populations.

The system is designed so one man, a government official with the right to stamp a travel permit, a government official at an airport that allows access to UN and INGO paid for flights, a government checkpoint guard, can simply deny access and in doing so deprive thousands of vulnerable people aid and waste millions of dollars of donors money.

If it continues with aid being blocked, and vulnerable populations as a result don't receive the aid they so desperately need, especially after the mass displacement due to GoS proxy militia attacks in September and October, then Ocampo's case just becomes stronger and stronger. The government agencies' actions at this time are securing the fate of their head of state, as the promises to facilitate aid more and more from Khartoum are looking emptier by the day.

No more can Sudan deny a state apparatus designed to obstruct when officials are making no attempts to even hide it. Sudan has embarrassed itself enough through the National Congress Party. The crimes this government has been allowed to commit, the manipulation and the deceit have tarred the name of the good people of Sudan and humiliated a noble country.

No doubt Sudan's "friends" will continue to support the NCP during these times of trouble with the ICC indictment pending. But the government is not making it easy for these so called "friends" when it acts like a belligerent child, refusing to cooperate regardless of the damage it is doing to itself in light of the ICC allegations.

And the feeling growing not only in Khartoum, but also amongst some of the once loyal militias in Darfur is become clearer: true "friends" of the Sudanese people would not be supporting a regime that has brought this level of shame to a once dignified nation.

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