Darfur Violence Escalates Under African Unions Watch
March 23, 2006
Recent Janjaweed attacks against civilians in Darfur demonstrate the continued ineffectiveness of African Union forces and urgent need for Western intervention. Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy has received troubling details of several separate attacks.
On Sunday March 12th, Fatna Omar, an approximately forty-year old woman, was out gathering firewood and straw to sell at the local market when she was confronted and beaten by Janjaweed militiamen. The attackers beat her about the head and body, causing serious injuries. Although civilians in the area are well aware that going out to gather such items exposes them to attack, they are destitute and have no other way to feed their families. Omar is being treated in an international hospital in Jenana, and her condition appears to be critical.
One week after the attack on Fatna Omar, the Janjaweed attacked two civilian trucks carrying people and goods to a market in Western Darfur. The trucks were traveling early in the morning from Al Jenana to the Asyrni Camp Market, which is normally a twenty-minute drive. The Janjaweed stopped the trucks in a Karrack yard, confiscated the cargo, and robbed the individual passengers of their belongings, including phones and watches. They even stole the hens that the impoverished civilians were transporting to market to sell. The Janjaweed then severely beat some of the passengers. Fortunately, they did not kill anyone.
Both attacks occurred during the daytime and were visible to African Union soldiers and government authorities. This brazen behavior by the Janjaweed is a dangerous sign of escalation in the campaign against civilians in Darfur.
Despite the fact that AU forces have proved incapable of defending the civilian population, their mission was recently extended for another six months. The AU presence plays a vital role in the Sudanese governments strategy to block a United Nations intervention. Such an intervention would involve the deployment of Western troops to stop the chaos and genocide in Darfur.
Damanga believes these latest attacks indicate increasing confidence on the part of the government and Janjaweed that they may do anything they want because the AU will do nothing to stop them. It is for this reason that they want to keep the AU there. The AU knowingly assumed a responsibility that it could not fulfill. Therefore, Damanga believes the AU must accept a share of the blame for the current escalation.
Damanga strongly urges the United States to work with its partners in NATO to take immediate action to halt the genocide. The people of Darfur cannot wait six more months for the AU to get its act together. According to aid workers and NGOs in the area, each day brings an estimated 500 deaths in Darfur, many of them children, from bullets or hunger. Six more months of inaction means at least 90,000 more people will die. We urge the US to act to protect these lives from annihilation, and it must act right now.