Finally, the African Union has come out with a strong - and from what I can tell accurate - statement on Darfur. Not only does it condemn last month's SLA rebel attacks on towns like Sheiria, but it also takes a harsh line on recent government attacks on civilians in places like Tawila.
Particularly with its accusation that the Sudanese government is still collaborating with Janjaweed militia (for example in the attack on Aro Sarow IDP camp, which killed 44 people), the statement goes far beyond what President Bashir and his henchmen would like to read while choking on their cups of chai in the morning.
The reaction from Khartoum? Unsurprisingly, a vehement denial. And, somewhat infuriatingly, the throw-away comment that this is simply "unreliable information" from those pesky aid agencies feeding the 2 million Sudanese people in the camps.
Naturally, the government is saying this in the full knowledge that said aid agencies are not in a position to defend themselves: as the anonymity of this blog demonstrates, it is nearly impossible for NGOs (and even to a certain extent UN agencies) to report on what they see without being expelled from Sudan and having their staff harassed, intimidated or even targeted in security incidents.
With their well-known tendency for arresting or deporting NGO staff that do speak out (such as MSF, Oxfam and Save the Children), the government are now finding themselves in a situation where most aid agencies are terrified of speaking about Darfur in public - and even the ones that keep trying are in such a small minority that hardly anyone listens to them in the first place.
In this sense, I am starting to realise it is almost ironic that I am forced to describe the African Union's statement as "strong". What I should say instead is that I read and hear descriptions of killings, rape, indiscriminate shooting and burning of houses or shelters just like the ones in the AU statement on a regular basis. It's just that I cannot share them with colleagues in other countries, with journalists, or the high and mighty policymakers in Brussels, Washington and New York in any format other than a blog that cannot be traced to me or to my employer.
Tags: Sudan, Darfur, aid worker, attacks, African Union, rebels