Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Chaos in Darfur Despite Peace Agreement

Darfur Peace Accord A Battle of Its Own

As the midnight deadline approached last Thursday in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick finally lost patience. After three days of intensive talks, the leader of the largest Darfur rebel faction, Minni Minnawi, had earlier that evening privately pledged to Zoellick to support a peace agreement. Now he announced he opposed it, in full view of African leaders and international mediators at the presidential villa.

"I'm disappointed in you. I expect people to keep their word," Zoellick icily told Minnawi, according to observers. "I can be a very good friend, but I am a fearsome enemy."
Seventeen hours later, after an all-night negotiating session, much wavering and learning his younger brother had been killed in Darfur, Minnawi finally succumbed to the pressure exerted by Zoellick, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and other international officials. He signed the peace agreement, which President Bush hailed yesterday as "the beginnings of hope for the people of Darfur."


Peace Pact Has Yet to Touch Lives of Darfur's Refugees

If peace has arrived at her little corner of despair, Fatouma Abdullah has not heard about it.
The camp at Gereida in Darfur shelters some 120,000 refugees. Just two weeks ago her father was gunned down as he tried to protect the family's herd of cattle, their only source of income, from the double onslaught of government soldiers and Arab militias on horseback, known here as the janjaweed.

"We saw their bodies," she said, her eyes empty as she sat beneath a tree in a vast, desolate camp, describing how her father and his two brothers died. "The janjaweed killed them."
She did not know, she said, that a peace agreement had been signed Friday by the main rebel faction, the Sudan Liberation Army, and Sudan's government, in the hope of ending the conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people and driven more than two million from their homes. And she doubted that the pact would allow her to go home to her village, Joghana, anytime soon.


Riot by Darfur Refugees Forces U.N. Official to Flee; One Killed

NYALA, Sudan, May 8 -- Darfur refugees rioted Monday and forced the U.N. humanitarian chief to rush from their camp, then later killed a translator in an attack on African peacekeepers in a sign of deep tensions in the war-torn region despite a fragile peace deal.

The violence broke out as the U.N.'s Jan Egeland toured the Kalma camp, home to about 90,000 displaced people driven from villages in Darfur. He was met by about 1,000 protesters demanding that U.N. peacekeepers be deployed in the region.

The protesters attacked a translator traveling with Egeland after someone in the crowd accused the man of working with the Janjaweed, the feared Arab militia blamed for atrocities against villagers, U.N. spokeswoman Dawn Blalock said.