Witnessing the atrocities committed against Darfur’s population on a daily basis, Action Against Hunger’s teams are among the few NGO’s still present in this hard-hit province in Sudan. From its presence on the ground, the following can be concluded: as the conflict is spreading and the number of instigators of violence increases, an armed and non-negotiated intervention would seem dangerous. An intervention would most likely make an already bad situation even worse, triggering yet more violence. Somalia and Iraq have demonstrated this.
Action Against Hunger is among the few non-governmental humanitarian organizations still operating in Darfur, Sudan, and its teams witness the atrocities committed against local populations on a daily basis. The organization’s teams have concluded that because the conflict is spreading and the number of instigators of violence is increasing, an armed and non-negotiated intervention would be dangerous. An intervention would most likely make an already bad situation even worse by triggering yet more violence.
A complex context
The political situation in Darfur has become more complex in recent months, especially since the signing of the Abuja peace deal in 2006. Rebel groups, both those that signed the peace agreement and those that did not, have split into multiple factions and formed new rebel movements. Numerous sub-factions are arising as the conflict splinters. Heavy fighting between various groups is recurrent, and frequent attacks on civilians have become common practice among all factions. Humanitarian workers have also been directly targeted. Some experts are comparing the situation to Somalia, which should alarm those who favor intervention without negotiation and prior agreement.
Priority to negotiation of peace force
Action Against Hunger calls for mediation to find a viable political solution to the situation. The negotiation of an accord supported only by some rebel factions—as was the case in Abuja last year—is unsatisfactory. In that instance, the desire to offer an attractive deal to the international community at all costs led to the terrible situation faced today by the local population and the humanitarian workers who support them. Applying pressure is an option; sanctions outlined in certain resolutions approved by the United Nations Security Council need to be enforced to allow for respect of humanitarian law and the protection of civilians. The Sudanese government opened a door on Monday, April 16, by accepting the second phase of a UN plan to deploy 3,000 troops to support those from the African Union. For us as humanitarians, bringing security to Darfur requires negotiating deployment of an effective peace force.
2.5 million Sudanese in Darfur depend on humanitarian assistance
The provision of humanitarian assistance to Darfur since the beginning of the conflict has prevented an even worse disaster. Approximately 2.5 million people have been displaced out of a total population of 6 million. They are surviving in vast camps, completely dependent on humanitarian assistance, with humanitarian agencies treating malnutrition, providing healthcare, and providing food and water. The main concerns for humanitarian organizations are the many regions that are inaccessible due to widespread insecurity as well as ongoing population displacements. No humanitarian group can accept such a situation.
Trying to respond to this crisis by means of a non-negotiated intervention, however, could have disastrous consequences that risk triggering a further escalation of violence while jeopardizing the provision of vital humanitarian assistance to millions of people.