Thursday, September 29, 2005

The UN's aid chief, Jan Egeland, has been making some noise this week about insecurity in Darfur and how unacceptable the situation is getting - close on the heels of similar remarks by the UN's genocide envoy, Juan Mendez, who visited Darfur recently.

While I'm not sure what political motivation lies behind these statements (clearly, both of these men will have known that security in Darfur has been abysmal for quite some time) it always impresses me how much the media jumps on these statements.

Any man, woman or child in a typical Darfur town, be it Geneina or Kebkabaya, will tell you that the Janjaweed are still walking through the market with their guns - or jogging through the streets with the military as new recruits, as the case may be. And that the SLA are again rumoured to be on the cusp of launching an attack against one of the major towns soon. And that no, that road is NOT safe to use - you WILL be robbed, possibly beaten and maybe shot if you keep going that way.

What would really be news is if someone actually prosecuted the people behind the violence for their crimes - or, perhaps more importantly, their bosses. Unfortunately, there's little hope that this will happen in the Sudanese tribunals that have been set up to deal with Darfur. And as the International Criminal Court, the one body who might have an impact on ending impunity in Darfur, sits around and mulls over its options I suppose the United Nations officials will be content with continuing to state the obvious.

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