Title: UNHCR Complicit in Khartoum’s Ethnic Cleansing Project of Darfur
Author: Abdullahi Osman El-Tom
Date: 04-05-2014, 02:26 PM
By Abdullahi Osman El-Tom
Over the past few weeks, Khartoum has embarked on a colossal intensification of its ethnic cleansing in Darfur. With Darfur dropping off the radar of the international community and with world attention firmly focussed on South Sudan, Khartoum has indeed nothing to fear. Its militias are no longer referred to as Janjaweed for they have long been incorporated into the government’s official armies. They are now indistinguishable from the regular army and operate under terms such as Border Guards, Popular Defence Units and Rapid Support Forces.
What is bewildering is not the mere escalation of Khartoum’s genocidal acts. Rather, it is the success of the Khartoum government in enticing a major UN body to play an active role in reprehensible politics. Shamefully as it is, this is precisely what the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office is doing in Eastern Chad. Let me explain myself.
At the time of writing these words, the so-called Rapid Support Forces (RSFs) are burning down Zaghawa villages in Amarai area in north Darfur. The RSFs are led by the notorious Darfur Janjaweed leader Hamdan Himedti aided by Genocidaire General Abbas Abdel Aziz. Over the past six weeks, the RSFs managed to burn down no less than 200 other villages in North, West and South Darfur States. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance has noted that in the last month of March alone, hostilities in Darfur have driven 200,000 out of their homes, with 250,000 new IDPs needing urgent humanitarian assistance. Many of these newly displaced people crossed as refugees into Chad. Eastern Chad is home to over 260,000 Darfur refugees housed in a dozen camps and managed by the UNHCR office in the country.
If the reader thinks the office of the UNHCR in Chad has been overwhelmed by reception and accommodation of new refugee arrivals, he or she could not have been more mistaken. The chief of the UNHCR office has been busy in an entirely different project, totally at odds with what we all think are the core ethos of the UN and its refugee-related work. On March 15th, the chief of the UNHCR in Eastern Chad summoned Refugee camp leaders for an important meeting. The list of the invitees reflected the extra-ordinary nature of the meeting and the urgency of implementing its resolutions. Furthermore, the presence of the Chadian commissioner for Eastern Chad, accompanied by his high-ranking officials left the refugees in no doubt the UNHCR chief meant business.
The relationship between the refugees and the UNHCR staff can hardly be described as amicable and trust between them is, to say the least, non-existent. Last year, the staff of the UNHCR decided to close down the camps and send the refugees home. Their decision was prompted by the current détente between the two dictators, Beby and Al-Bashir and the conclusion of the defunct Darfur-Doha Peace Agreement of Tigani Sesse. The refugees defiantly resisted repatriation because their land was still occupied by the same Janjaweed who ejected them into Chad in the first place.
In his contact with Radio Dabanga, Mohamed Daffalla, the head of Darfur IDPs in eastern Chad gave a harrowing description of what transpired in the meeting of March 15th. The meeting was a classic convention bringing together the powerful with the powerless and the superior givers with the lowly receivers and the UNHCR declaration tells it all:
• The UNHCR will to cease all forms of assistance to Darfur refugees in Chad with the exception of limited aid to the most destitute among them. Aid to the destitute will be delivered in kind and channelled through Chadian private businesses.
• Refugee camps will be closed down and its inhabitants are to be fully self-sufficient and integrated into Chadian towns.
• Darfur refugees will be naturalised as Chadian citizens, cease to be Sudanese and will be treated as Chadians by the local authority.
• All children born to Darfur Refugees are to be given Chadian birth certificates and are to become Chadian citizens as well.
• All schools in all refugee camps run by UNHCR and international NGOs are to convert to use of Chadian curriculum. By 2015, these schools will be closed down and all pupils will be transferred to Chadian town schools.
Needless to say, the decision of the UNHCR stunned the refugees. In effect the UNHCR wanted the refugees to cease be refugees, abandon their dream of going home and settle, integrate and become full Chadian citizens. As of now and in preparation for the horrific UNHCR plan, their children are to be taught Chadian history, geography and sensibility in their new schools. In African post-colonial politics and history, this is the first time ever where food is used to exchange over a quarter of a million people between Anglophone and Francophone Africa. It is not only France that stands to gain in the process. The Janjaweed too must feel terribly indebted to our esteemed UNHCR. The land they have seized in Darfur will be fully theirs.
Ridding Darfur of its African people and replacing them with “Arab blood” is central to Darfur ethnic cleansing. The Arab Gathering slogan of “Restoration of Arab balance in Darfur”, Gadhafi’s dream of “pushing the Arab Frontiers Further South of the Sahara” and Al-Bashir’s blatant policy of “De-Africanisation of the Sudan”, are all part of this grandiose project. What is perplexing is why the UNHCR choose to play an active role in this evil project. Its current decision legitimates permanent settlement of Darfur refugees in Chad, legalises Janjaweed occupation of their land back home and ensures success of the Al-Bashir’s gamble of ethnic cleansing. Not a savoury pursuit for an entity worthy of the name “UNHCR”.
Abdullahi Osman El-Tom is Head of Office for Strategic Planning of JEM. He can reached at: [email protected]