GENT – “The complex political emergency in Darfur proves the necessity of high accountability structures. The billions of dollars support for the peace-keeping operations should be justified by tangible effects being monitored by independent organizations, including media and research institutions”.
This stated Mr. Hildebrand Bijleveld, journalist and director of Radio Dabanga for Darfur, during a lecture at the faculty of Political Sciences and the Conflict Research group, in Belgium at the University of Gent. He has just returned from a field-visit to Sudan and South-Sudan. The budget for the hybrid peacekeeping force UNAMID has exceeded 1,5 billion dollars a year. “Every taxpayer in the West would like to know whether such an operation has verifiable positive effects. Claims concerning safe return, displacement and undernourishment should professionally and independently been monitored”.
Bijleveld gave an example based on the recent publications of the UN-Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance. In its last bulletin UN-OCHA wrote about undernourishment: “The report findings indicate that between 1990-1992 and 2010- 2012, the proportion of undernourished people in Sudan had decreased by 6.4 per cent.”
Bijleveld provided the students with statistics that prove that the UN statement might be technically correct, but blurring the reality of a rapidly increasing chronic undernourishment since the violent conflict started in Darfur in 2003 and renewed fightings have started in Southern Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan. “Reading the statistics properly, the story of undernourishment is alarming. In 1999-2001 around 31.7% of the population was undernourished, counting for 11 million people. After the Darfur civil war started in 2003, the undernourishment in Sudan has increased to 18 million people in 2012, around 39,4% of the entire population. That is even 7 million more people suffering from undernourishment compared to 1992”, Bijleveld explained to his audience. He considers the issue as being urgent in the context of an expected famine in larger parts of Southern Kordofan and North Darfur due to a poor harvest. In early August, the African Union, Arab League and the UN signed agreements with the Khartoum Government and the SPLM-N to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians in areas of SPLM-N activity. Up to now nothing has been delivered, with the exception of government controlled areas.
The researchers from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore - examined the Nuba children from six months to five years old. They conclude in their report published 11 October: "The food security situation in South Kordofan has dramatically deteriorated, with 81.5 percent of households surviving on one meal per day, compared to only 9.5 percent one year ago, and 0 percent two years ago”. The report concludes that the lack of nutrition is serious, verging on critical, with a current global acute malnutrition rate in children 6-59 months of 14.9 percent and a severe acute malnutrition rate of 3.6 percent and the presence of aggravating factors.
Bijleveld says that too few independent organizations report on the situation, like Radio Dabanga and Radio Tamazuj, projects initiated and supported by Free Press Unlimited.