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An idiot peacekeeper in Darfur
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-08-28 09:02:13
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I’m not sure why, but when I read that the UN’s military commander in Sudan said that the six years of civil war in Darfur has effectively ended, I remembered George W. Bush on the day he proudly declared the Iraqi mission accomplished! Oddly, General Martin Agwai made his declaration just six days before leaving the region and his post for good. I suppose this has a meaning of its own, or perhaps it has something to do with his personal legacy, because the truth is, it will probably take decades until the war in Sudan ends.

The real war in Darfur moved from the battle fields a long time ago. The rapes, the murders and the torturing didn’t happen in open fields with armies facing one another, but inside camps hosting thousands of refugees; in dark corners and in the back of tents. Even if the war in the fields is over, the forgetting and forgiving is another story all together. This will take a lot more time and probably a lot more deaths and suffering. I know, I grew up in a country that lived through a civil war and now I live in a country that had a civil war a century ago. A century later there are still memories alive and the healing is still in process. So please don’t start this mission accomplice rubbish!

In Darfur this minute there are two generations that have no idea of any other kind of life; a life without a riffle under the bed and blood on the hands. Apart from this, the memory of 300,000 dead is extremely strong. Over three million people had to move, most of them to refugee camps because of the war. They lost everything and most of all, they lost their dignity. This is something they cannot forget or forgive for long a time, and for them the war is not over.

"Banditry, localised issues, people trying to resolve issues over water and land at a local level. But real war as such, I think we are over that," the general said, but the words behind what he said is that there is absolutely no security for the people of Darfur. And this is the most important issue in Darfur all the way; the security of the innocent was the main the reason to why the UN was there, and why the Unamid (The African Union Peacekeeping force) was so well armed and so much supported. The irony is that there are parts of the Darfur region that are unreachable, even for the Unamid. These are places where the jungle law is the only law, and where the one who carries the biggest gun is the one who survives. That’s the reality General Martin Agwai forgot to mention.

The General also forgot to mention that Khartoum has been supporting and arming the militias for a long time and that these militias are the main responsible for most of the crimes in the camps. and of course he forgot that The Hague international court has issued an arrest warrant earlier this year for Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, accusing him of war crimes. Apparently, most of the crimes and witnesses are coming from the very same camps that the Unamid and the UN were responsible for. These are the very same camps that are in a middle of a war far away from ideology, but very close to raw criminals.

General Agwai said that only one rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), posed a real threat, but it no longer had the ability to conquer and hold territory. What the good General forgot to mention again, is that this group has gradually added the rebels of all the other groups under its umbrella and that their territory is out of limits for the government army and the Unamid.

The worst damage the general caused was that everything he said was wired by all the news agencies, and thousands, if not millions of people read it. All the efforts to make people aware of the situation in Darfur might have taken a serious hit. This makes the General apart from naïve, also an idiot. It is difficult to predict how long it will take to fix the damage he caused. Apparently the General considers himself a peacekeeper and a protector of the innocent, and I seriously hope his comments came out of naivety. I worry for his legacy, otherwise the softest way I can describe him is… an idiot. Let’s hope that his idiotic comments will not stop people from wanting to help and wanting to try to stop the real war… that still continues in Darfur.


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