180,000 die from hunger in Darfur - Guardian, UK
- 180,000 die from hunger in Darfur
Deadlock on sanctions as UN reveals toll from
starvation and disease
Jeevan Vasagar in Nairobi and Ewen MacAskill
Wednesday March 16, 2005
More than 180,000 people have died from hunger and
disease during the last 18 months of the Darfur
conflict, the United Nations said yesterday, as
negotiations continued at its New York headquarters to
break the deadlock on a new security council
resolution to impose sanctions on the Sudanese
Brian Grogan, a spokesman for Jan Egeland, the UN
emergency relief coordinator, said an average 10,000
Sudanese civilians were dying a month, much higher
than earlier estimates. They were victims mainly of
starvation or of disease in refugee camps after being
driven from their villages by Sudanese soldiers and
government-backed Janjaweed militiamen. The estimates
exclude those killed in the fighting.
Khartoum accused the UN of producing the figures as a
ploy to get the security council to take action
against Sudan, and demanded evidence to back up the
The Sudanese foreign minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail,
said: "Jan Egeland was here - I met him [and] he never
mentioned this number."
Mr Egeland said last week that an estimate of 70,000
was too low but did not indicate what he regarded as a
more realistic figure.
Nearly a year after the UN described Darfur as the
world's worst humanitarian crisis, there is no sign
the scorched-earth campaign against black African
villages is over.
Hundreds of new refugees are flooding into overcrowded
camps such as the giant settlement at Kalma in south
Darfur, which housed fewer than 10,000 people this
time last year but now houses 100,000.
Sally Austin, assistant country director for the aid
agency Care, said: "When I was there last, three weeks
ago, we were seeing between 200 and 250 people
arriving per day in two sectors [of the camp] where we
"The new refugees are queueing just to be able to get
plastic sheeting to build temporary shelters. They are
having to queue to get on food distribution lists -
not just queueing for food.
"We are also seeing people building more permanent
structures out of mud, which I think is a sign that
people realise they are going to be there another nine
Nearly 2 million black Africans have been driven from
their homes in Darfur since the war began, and a
further 200,000 have crossed into Chad.
Two years of war have transformed Darfur into a
landscape of refugee camps, swaths of ghostly,
deserted villages and roving armed bands.
The US, which describes the war as genocide, is
pushing for measures that will target individuals
accused of major crimes, mainly in the Sudanese
military, government and Janjaweed but also in rebel
The UN security council failed to reach agreement on a
new resolution last week. The US blamed Russia and
China for blocking a proposal to introduce limited
sanctions. Others on the security council blamed the
US because of its objection to referring the
perpetrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC)
in The Hague.
The British government is hoping the security council
can reach agreement by the end of this week.
Discussions were taking place at the UN headquarters
in New York yesterday.
The US, which opposes the ICC, has suggested that the
perpetrators face a special tribunal in Africa.
The British government remains hopeful that a
compromise can be reached. Rick Grenell, spokesman for
the US mission to the UN, this week described as
preposterous a report in the Guardian last week that
the US might allow reference to the ICC to go through.
A British source said yesterday such a compromise
remained a possibility, though hopes were beginning to
diminish. The US would need a cast-iron guarantee that
its immunity from the ICC would not be affected, the
China, which imports oil from Sudan and has up to
5,000 expatriates working there, opposes an oil
embargo but is almost ready for a travel ban and
assets freeze on the main perpetrators.
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