March 12, 2009

Escalation is Never the Best Policy

Back into another wait and see phase here in Khartoum. We had the ICC, followed by the expulsions of 13 international NGOs and action against three local agencies. President Bashir made speech after speech, and was rarely off the TV. Things were building day by day. More expulsions expected. Then nothing. A planned trip to […]

March 10, 2009

Diplomatic Games in Khartoum

So we’ve already had one round of punch and counter punch with the ICC’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir followed by his (and I’m told it came directly from the president) expulsion of 13 international charities. Now we are into round two. Even as wiser heads counselled against further action, the […]

March 6, 2009

Camp Services Shut Down

  Aid officials in Sudan used to tell me their humanitarian operation was suffering death by a thousand cuts. They struggled to get personnel and equipment into the country, local staff were expected to inform on their employers, and NGOs were routinely smeared in the media. But still they managed to get aid to more […]

March 5, 2009

Bashir Reacts

Only about one par made it into The Times story today so the whole thing is posted below. There may be more NGOs on way out. Diplomats also braced for expulsions today – they take longer to arrange. And what about the peace v justice debate? I’ll post on that later, but it seems for now that […]

March 4, 2009

Aid Workers Forced From Camps

Foreign aid workers have been ordered out of key locations across Darfur as the Sudanese Government flexes its muscles before a decision today by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on whether to charge President al-Bashir with war crimes. The six NGOs are: Oxfam, CHF, Solidarites, MSF-France, MSF-Holland, Care International. The locations are: Abu Shouk, Gereida, […]

February 26, 2009

Lockdown in Darfur

  It’s business as usual, according to pretty much anyone you ask in Khartoum when the issue of next week’s International Criminal Court indictment of Omar al-Bashir comes up. No-one wants to give the Sudanese government an excuse to accuse diplomats or the international community of acting as judge and jury and finding Bashir. So […]

February 23, 2009

The Waiting is Over – Apart from the next 8 days that is…

Proving once again that mindless press speculation can serve a purpose, the International Criminal Court has been forced to put out a notice saying that it will issue a warrant for the arrest of annouce its decision on President Omar al-Bashir next Wednesday. It rather snootily notes… CONSIDERING that there have been numerous rumors over the […]

February 22, 2009

Who Are Darfur’s Arabs?

Powerful piece by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times about two sisters affected by violence in Darfur. Kristof was in Chad (or the Darfur area as he calls it) for a few days with George Clooney, raising awareness of the conflict and the looming ICC indictment of President Bashir. Which is great. And makes for eyeopening […]

February 20, 2009

Who’s Who of Darfuri Rebels

View large image Keeping track of Darfur’s armed movements is an impossible task. Allegiances shift, factions break away and then re-merge often before anyone has even noticed. It creates difficulties for mediators and humanitarian workers. Who from all the different groups gets a seat at the negotiating table? Who really represents anyone? If I want […]

February 18, 2009

Waiting for the ICC

  Life in Khartoum is settling into a bit of a routine. Batter out a thousand words for my book first thing, then it’s a day of meetings, planning and checks as I prepare to head to Darfur. It’s always a tricky business. No-one ever knows when the travel permit will come through. Maybe four […]

February 17, 2009

Progress in Darfur Peace Talks

Good news emerging from Doha where members of the Justice and Equality Movement are poised to sign an agreement with the Sudanese government that could pave the way to peace talks on Darfur. The deal includes an agreement to end attacks on people living in aid camps and an exchange of prisoners. It is designed […]

February 16, 2009

Breakfast in Khartoum IV (Although I’m frankly not sure of the number)

Ozone is a quiet place these days. Ever since the US embassy in Khartoum warned its citizens to avoid places where expats tended to gather there have been fewer white faces here at the world’s best coffeeshop on a roundabout. Ozone is a particular target apparently. People are on tenterhooks waiting for the International Criminal […]

February 9, 2009

Saving Darfur: The International Criminal Court and the Language of Righting Wrongs

Police wait for President Bashir to arrive in El Fasher last year Fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Uganda’s shadowy rebel cult, have forced more than 130,000 people from their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo since Congolese soldiers joined Ugandan and Southern Sudanese forces in launching an all-out assault on guerilla hide-outs before […]

February 3, 2009


So first up, well done Unamid. Khartoum has asked the hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force to pull out of Muhajiriya so its armed forces can bomb and burn the town at will. And Unamid has said no, we’re staying. But to do what? So far the hybrid force has done precisely nothing to prevent attacks by […]

January 26, 2009

Things in Sudan Could Go Either Way, Experts

Sudan is gearing up for judges at the International Criminal Court to decide whether to indict President Omar al Bashir on the three charges being pursued by Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Speculation is rife that a decision will come in February, although no-one knows for sure. Journalist and aid worker friends are already getting out – or […]

January 15, 2009

You Article is Nonsense and Why isn’t it on the Website?

On Monday Hassan al Turabi, once the Islamist power behind the Sudanese president, gave interviews to the BBC World Service, Reuters and AFP calling for Omar al Bashir to give himself up to the International Criminal Court to prevent further international isolation of Sudan. In doing so he was the first opposition leader to break […]

December 21, 2008

My African Predictions for 2009

This year I lost $200 in bets on the US presidential election and remain committed to swimming naked to Tuti island in the middle of the Nile on my next visit to Khartoum. That is not enough to stop me making a few more predictions of the events that will shape the African news agenda […]

December 12, 2008

Your African Year

A few days ago I was compiling an 800wd review of 2008 in Africa for one of my papers. I asked for help in finding a good news story to include and was inundated by readers’ ideas for things I should include. I simply didn’t have room for more than one, so I thought we […]

October 23, 2008

Devils and Details

George Clooney’s people have still not contacted my people over the great “Put Up or Shut Up” debate he proposed last year. George has now at least been to Darfur (albeit for about 24 hours before being struck down by diarrhoea and having to be smuggled back to the comforts of the Rotana Hotel in […]

August 13, 2008

Darfur: Not the Size of France or Texas

Poor befuddled readers of newspapers can’t be expected to understand straightforward units of measurement so when it comes to geographical area we journalists have a neat (where neat means hackneyed) trick – compare the subject of the article to things the reader might know. Traditionally this has been the football pitch as in…”the Beckhams’ front […]

August 10, 2008

Saving Darfur II

My lurch from left-wing idealist living in Britain, to right-wing realist in Africa continues apace. This time it is The Spectator that seems to have nailed the analysis of Darfur… The exclusive focus on bashing the government has emboldened the rebels, encouraging them to keep up the fight and shun the negotiating table. The peace […]

July 28, 2008

It’s Not About Boots on the Ground

A UN-AU hybrid patrol sets off for Siliea in West Darfur. The helmets have been painted blue but no-one has got around to removing the old Amis logo African aid agencies released a report today saying the joint African Union and United Nations mission to Darfur was failing to protect civilians. We’re at the six-month […]

July 25, 2008

Bedtime in Nyala

Beds in a courtyard in Nyala, Darfur, before it started raining At the end of a long day standing in the blistering sun without water watching the Sudanese president addressing 10,000 people in El Fasher and then 20,000 people in Nyala, what you want is a bed. If it is a bed in the cool […]

July 24, 2008

The Bashir Boogie

Omar al-Bashir arrives in El Geneina, West Darfur Just back in Khartourm from a trip to Darfur with President Omar al-Bashir, who is waiting to find out whether the International Criminal Court will issue a warrant for his arrest. The trip was astonishing and fascinating in many ways. It was a whistle-stop tour of El […]

July 22, 2008

My Home from Home

The old timers will tell you it’s not how it was, but there’s still a special spirit among foreign correspondents. The new arrivals from London don’t always get it at first but they usually fall into line eventually. The point is that exclusives are few and far between and they will anyway end up on […]

July 19, 2008

The View from Khartoum

So it’s almost a week now since the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court revealed his evidence against President Omar al-Bashir. And it’s still pretty difficult to work out where things are going. The consensus among aid workers and UN staff here is that things will stay quiet while Khartoum goes down the diplomatic road, […]

July 16, 2008

Breakfast in Khartoum II

The best carrot cake in East Africa Yes carrot cake for breakfast. I’ll be bringing you an update on the impact of Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s evidence against President Bashir as soon as I have the faintest idea what’s going on. It’s fair to say that reaction here is mixed.

July 15, 2008

What next?

So the prosecutor published his evidence and President Bashir now stands accused of war crimes, genocide and murder. There was a mix of reaction here in Sudan from the angry to the considered and it seems the government may be mulling over exactly what to do. Could a palace coup be an option? After speculation […]

July 13, 2008

Khartoum Bound

A UN-AU hybrid patrol sets off for Siliea in West Darfur. The helmets have been painted blue but no-one has got around to removing the old Amis logo Heading to Khartoum to see what comes out of the International Criminal Court. Readers of this blog will know that prosecutors have President Bashir himself in their […]

July 4, 2008

Justice or Peace in Darfur?

A UN-AU hybrid patrol sets off for Siliea in West Darfur. The helmets have been painted blue but no-one has got around to removing the old Amis logo The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, set the cat among the pigeons last month by accusing the entire Khartoum government of committing war crimes in […]