On-The-Record Briefing: United States Agency for International Development Administrator Andrew S. Natsios and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Affairs Michael Ranneberger on Sudan
September 29, 2004
(2:15 p.m. EDT)
MR. CASEY: Afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to our next briefing for the day. As I think all of you know, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Natsios is here with us today. He is recently returned from a trip from Sudan, looking at the broad range of issues with that country, but very specifically about the crisis in Darfur. We wanted to give him an opportunity to talk to you today about his trip and about the general situation in the region and the country. With him as well is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Michael Ranneberger.
And, with that, let me turn this podium over to Administrator Natsios, and hope we have a good briefing. Thank you.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Thank you very much. I went, actually, to four countries --the Congo, then to Burundi, then to Kenya and then to Sudan -- and we looked at the reconstruction efforts in the south for three days and then went for four or five days into the north. But the focus of my briefing today will be just on Darfur since that seems to be of the greatest interest publicly.
This is my fourth trip in a year to Darfur. I actually have been going there since 1991, so I remember the civil war back then. But that caused the displacement of about 20,000 people -- the war in '91 -- and this has caused displacement of on the order of 1.7 million people. Nothing in the last century in the history of the Sudan in Darfur has approximated this and there's no level of conflict even remotely close to this in Darfur in the memory of any of the people that I've ever talked to who are experts on Darfur.
Without going into the whole history, this started, in this phase of it, last February, and there are two rebel movements, the SLA and the JEM, who are loosely federated with each other, and they are conducting this war. They are from, primarily, the Masalit, the Fur and the Zagawa tribes. They're African tribes. They speak African languages although many of the people also speak Arabic. And what happened is the government sent troops in, not realizing -- maybe no one asked the question -- that more than half of many of the Sudanese military units were from Darfur. It was sort of like the Scots during the British Empire, which were the backbone of the imperial army under Victoria, and if you --
QUESTION: The Campbells.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Pardon me?
QUESTION: The Campbells.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: The Campbells, yes. My wife is a MacDonald, so -- yes. In any case, the problem, of course, is that when they were sent in to put down the rebellion, they said, "I'm not blowing up my village and I'm not shooting my relatives," and there were 38 pitched battles between April of last year and very early this year, and friends of mine tell me the government lost 34 battles and won four. And I have government officials telling me this, not just the rebel movement.
And what would happen is they would simply turn all their weaponry over to -- without any surrender. They wouldn't even fight.
There's a purge going on in the Sudanese military now and they're attempting to purge military officers from Darfur, which will have a profound effect in their operational readiness as an army, but two, they are reconstituting units to try to put units together that have no Darfurians in them, which would make them also less effective operation, because the people don't know each other, they haven't fought together, their officer core has been purged. It's causing some real disruption within the Sudanese military. In addition, so that there's one level of stress from the war, there's a second level because of this -- these disruptions within the force structure of the Sudanese military.
The third thing that's happening is there has been a drought this year in Sudan, all over Sudan, not just the north. It's a not a severe drought, so far as we can tell -- yet. The harvest in Darfur will be harvested in November and December -- late November, early December. We will not know till then, but I flew over miles and miles of millet fields and they looked quite grim.
If there is a major crop loss from the drought, we -- will complicate the war and the displacement on top of a drought and; unfortunately, third, there is the worst locust infestation -- it's not yet a plague; I think it's, however, heading towards one -- since the 1985, '88 locust plague in North America. We have teams of scientists out there and operation people are beginning to rent planes and working with the governments of North Africa to stop this. There are about nine million acres of land in North Africa infested with it. The problem is, our scientists say, they usually head for Darfur and Kordofan after they eat everything in North Africa. So we are facing the potential for a major locust plague, which will eat what's ever left in that area of Sudan.
So they have multiple crises on top of each other. There's an incipient rebellion brewing in the east of the country that so far has not blown up, and I have -- I've been going to Sudan since 1989 and I have never seen the Sudanese Government in more of a corner, under more stress. And part of it, they have created themselves by what they did in Darfur. Part of it is through the pressure of the international coalition that the United States has put together. The two resolutions in the UN shocked them because they were sponsored by the French and the Germans with us, who have been allies of theirs in Europe prior to Darfur.
And so there was a sense that the Sudanese traditional mechanisms for dealing with the southern civil war are not working in Darfur. They were able to manipulate international opinion, divide it, divide the west, in terms of the donors governments, divide the Africans. This time, it's not working very well, and they're feeling the stress of that.
There was an attempted coup when I was in Khartoum. All the ministries were surrounded with troops. There were 50-caliber machine guns at the end of roads. When I spent an hour and a half with Vice President Taha it was in his residence and not in the presidential palace, which is a little unusual. All the times I've been meeting Sudanese leaders for 15 years has been in the presidential palace.
So we went to Darfur. We spent four days there, went to all three of the Darfurian states. This is a map of the declassified aerial photographs the CIA has done for us of the 574 towns that have been completely destroyed and the 157 villages that have been partially destroyed. So we're dealing with nearly 750 partially or fully destroyed villages. We have aerial photographs of them, but that literally is where they are. And this is a map of where all of the displaced camps are.
The findings of the trip are, beyond the fact that we're facing multiple crises and that the country is under severe stress, is that there is a higher level of rage among the displaced people in the camps -- 1.4, 1.5 million now in displaced camps -- than I have ever seen in 15 years of this kind of work. And I thought it was my imagination and I started asking friends of mine who had been in the UN system for 20 or 30 years, and several of them were very senior people, said, "Andy, we have never seen anything, one, that's such a mess politically." It is the most complicated conflict, probably, in the world right now; two, they've never seen this level of absolute rage among people in a camp. There is a sense of ethnic polarization that's very ahistorical, which is to say typically the African and Arab tribes have intermarried, they've dealt with each other, they have a symbiotic relationship in that the Arab nomads trade for millet with the African farmers, and they have a lot of commerce together. And, in fact, there are all sorts of historical evidence that the Africans would invite the tribes of nomads into their areas, so long as they didn't eat their millet fields, as they were moving south and north during the different seasons of the year.
That has all been completely disrupted now. There is a report that we got that the government has shut down all commercial food deliveries across conflict lines, which means no more food is going back and forth. The SLA has said none of these nomads, Arab nomads, can move their animal herds north. They're now stuck down south down in this area here. They typically move up this time of year and they're not doing it because the SLA has said ‘you will not move your herds through our lines because half of your herds were looted from our villages.’
There's been a massive transfer of wealth from the African tribes who, in fact, are not just farmers, they are also semi-pastoralists, which at least most African families in Darfur have 40 to 50 head of animal. They don't have vast herds but if you add up what they had and look at what they have now, they have nothing left, and those animals were basically their savings accounts. Those have been all transferred to the Jingaweit and the Jingaweit now are literally occupying the lands of the farmers. If you fly over it, you'll see all these African villages that are burned out and they're completely covered with animals. And so there's been a massive disruption of the economy, which will take a very long time to recover from.
The recommendations that we've made, which I did based on extensive conversations with the AID staff in the country, the DART team which have been there since March, and the NGOs and UN officials, at the ground level and at the national level in Khartoum. There was a sort of unanimity of opinion that the presence of African peacekeeping troops from the AU, even though it's of very modest size, is having a salutary effect on the conflict, which is to say it is restraining both sides to have the African troops there, particularly senior-ranking officers.
My observation is that if there was a much larger African force and they were arrayed differently, which is to say they were deployed to live in the villages and to live in the camps and not in barracks -- they're now in barracks at the capitals and they go out to investigate an incident, do a report on it, go back to their barracks. Just having them present 24/7 in a town of some -- they can't be in every village, but if they're in the larger and medium size towns and displaced camps, it will have an effect of having observers there all the time. Even the NGOs are not there all the time. They're only there during daylight hours. The UN security system requires them to leave.
So we strongly recommend that there be quickly a much larger AU force, and I guess that is in train now. At the time I was there and I met with Vice President Taha, he had not made the decision or the government had not made the decision to invite more AU troops in. We told him this was critically important, the chargé and I, and there has been a letter. I don't -- I think it's the British who are urging the same thing, and the Europeans, we've been telling them this over and over again, and I think it finally has gotten through that it's in their interest to stabilize this very unstable situation.
There is a risk, if we don't do this quickly, of more violence. I don't mean violence between the rebels and the government. I mean civil violence among the different tribes because of the level of rage we’re seeing. We had an incident in front of me, which some of you may have seen, where a government official was practically stoned to death. We actually rescued him from being killed and it was quite disturbing. I had not really believed these stories of rage before until it happened in front of me and until other people were telling me of similar incidents.
The situation in the camps has stabilized nutritionally; however, it is still precarious and very fragile. We have not peaked yet with the crisis, and if there is a severe drought that will complicate this and we could have renewed crises later in the year. This is the hungry season anyway in a normal year, and if there is a crop failure, then we will be -- people will be under severe stress by the end of this calendar year.
The food is moving in. When Secretary Powell and I were there July 1st, there were 323 expatriate relief workers. There are now 710. We have more than doubled since that time. That is a very good sign, because it means that relief infrastructure, which is represented by these expatriates, is about 5,000 Sudanese technical people who are working for these 710 expatriates in the NGO and UN agencies. The food system has been set up. It's not moving quite as fast as I would like it to, but we are providing about 70 percent of the food in Darfur right now. The United States has contributed $241 million in obligated funds. That means the money is -- we've signed the contracts and grants, we've moved the money into the accounts of the organizations and they are spending it. And so we are spending more money than all other donors in the world combined, at this point. We urge other countries to give generously. I know the British and the Dutch in Europe have been particularly generous, as generous as we have, in terms of the size of their aid budgets, and they are working very closely with us operationally on the ground.
So that is my briefing. If any of you have questions, I'd be glad to answer them.
QUESTION: Well, Sudan questions, but not on your observations.
QUESTION: So when you talk about the risk for civil violence, can you just elaborate there? Who specifically, if you might -- you say it's between tribes, but I thought some of this was, you know, against the African tribes. Are you suggesting that --
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Well, the Africans are also telling us that if they get the chance, they're going to take revenge for what happened to them. I mean, extremely angry. They've had their -- their land's been taken away from them, and all their animals taken -- I would guess three or four million animals, head of animals, herds, were looted from the Africans. This is not small-scale looting. This was systematic, massive, over all this area here. And that is an extremely dangerous thing. That, basically, is like wiping out all of the savings of these people almost simultaneously in a matter of five or six months.
QUESTION: So the potential for further violence is the groups that have mainly been the victims, responding.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Yeah, we saw it, in front of me. I mean, the Sheikhs tried to beat this guy to death. I mean, he was, in fact, hated in the camp because of some of the stuff he had done. But, and this -- this is the fourth incident of this kind where camps have blown up. There was a riot in one of the camps the week before we got there because the government officials would not allow the visiting delegation to speak with IDPs in the camp.
There are also stories of Zagawas, of which there are about 7,000 in Khartoum and Omdurman, being arrested at night, some of them begin interrogated, some of them being beaten up. A teenage boy was apparently beaten to death by the secret police the week before I arrived.
So there is a problem that -- the Sudanese are very nervous, particularly of the Zagawas in the greater Khartoum area, as a group that's, you know, very, very upset with what's happened, and there's risk of violence, not just in Darfur, but against the tribe's diaspora in Khartoum and Omdurman.
QUESTION: Could you say when you were there, the dates? I'm sorry.
A PARTICIPANT: The 11th through the 19th, I believe.
QUESTION: In the province of Darfur?
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Right.
A PARTICIPANT: Yeah, in Sudan.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Yeah, we went in the south, then we went into Khartoum, went out for four days and then came back again to Khartoum.
QUESTION: Okay. On that subject, can you tell us how many places in Darfur you went, and have you --
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: We went to all three provinces -- there used to be one province of Darfur; the government is divided into three. So we went -- this is actually clearer. Where's the other -- this map here. We went to all three capitals. We went down here to -- we went to Al Fashir here, Junaynah here, and Nyala, wherever Nyala is, down here -- it's maybe over --
A PARTICIPANT: Right where your finger is.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Right here, Nyala. So we went to the capitals, and then we went into the camps. The incident that happened with me in the camp –
A PARTICIPANT: Was in Mornay.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: -- was in Mornay, which is right here. So we went from down here, we went all over the Jebel Marra area to Golo, which is quite an extraordinary thing.
It's sort of a -- there's a story from Golo that's quite interesting. We just rebuilt two roads in the Jebel Marra mountains, and someone said, "Why are you doing this?" This is the, probably, the richest agricultural area in all of east Africa. Much of the citrus fruit consumed in east Africa is from the Jebel Marra orchards. It's a very rich area. If you see the villages, which I did by helicopter, they're not normal African villages. They had 100 trucks going there a week to pick up the produce over decades and sell it. Those roads deteriorated four years ago and shut down. The entire economy collapsed. The government said, "Well, we don't care. We're not going to invest any money here." And so the economy was in bad shape for four years in that area. We went in, repaired it. Now there are 40 to 50 trucks going back in, in the middle of a war, getting this citrus fruit and shipping it to Khartoum and Omdurman and to other parts of east Africa.
The point here is, there is a palpable sense of being marginalized, of the oil wealth never quite getting to Darfur, of the cabinets of governments going back to 1956 having no Darfurians in them. I mean, Darfur is less represented than the south is in the national governments. So there is this sense of being marginalized, and that's led to the rebellion, particularly among the intelligentsia, among the tribes. And it's not just, I might -- many of the Arab tribes are neutral in this, or are sympathetic to what the rebels are doing. This is not just Arab versus Arab -- I mean, Arab versus African. There are many Arab tribes in the south that are as angry as the Africans are with the central government's treatment of the Darfur, even predating the current government.
QUESTION: Ruud Lubbers and the people at the UN are proposing this idea of giving more autonomy to Darfur, and I wonder if you think that's at all realistic, given that you believe the Khartoum government feels itself in a corner with this.
And if I can ask secondly, what exactly is the U.S. doing to try to get this AU force in, to be released?
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: I'll let Mike answer the question about the AU force, but in terms of Ruud Lubbers, one thing we've learned over the years, if we impose settlements on the Sudanese, they find ways of undermining them. It has to be something owned by them that they accept. The reason that the Naivasha Accords have gone as far as they have is because while we encouraged them very strongly, they were negotiated by the north and the south themselves. And I think it's important that the Sudanese settle this. We need to encourage them. One of the things both the north and the south and the Darfurians have talked about for a long time is a federated state where there is far more local autonomy and local control.
However, one of the big issues that's complicated all this that I think has led to even more anger in the east and the west, the marginalized areas of the north, is the oil wells. Because if you federate the state and just say you're on your own, they'll say, "Well, what about all that oil wealth?" The oil is in southern Darfur. There’'s all sorts of oil wells down here. The Chinese are drilling them right now. I don't know if anything is being pumped, but it's down there. And the Darfurians are saying, "Wait a second. That's our oil. You're taking it and we're never seeing any of the money." So you've got to deal with the oil, the issue of wealth sharing in addition. But that's something they have to deal with. The best way to do that is through the Naivasha accords and having Garang and Taha back to finish the accords is -- everybody said, including people in the government, that we need to get back to the table because those accords don't just affect the south, they affect the north, too. In the accords it says in three years there will be multiparty elections in the north and the south. And there are formulas, like the Nuba Mountains -- which is in the north, not the south -- that is in the accords that might be a model for dealing with some of the other marginalized areas in terms of how you deal with it in a political sense.
Mike, do you want to answer the --
MR. RANNEBERGER: Yeah, just let me -- of course.
On the AU force, so far we've committed $12 million to that, all of which has been dispensed, to get the monitors who are out there on the ground, we have about 120 African Union observers with 310, say, protection forces, so about 450, more or less, close to that. We have committed another $20.5 million, not yet spent but committed, ready to go, to support expansion of the African Union force. And, of course, both resolutions that we -- that we led in the United Nations call for endorsement of the African Union force and for support for that. We've been in close consultation also with the Europeans to help to mobilize additional funding and we expect the EU to be announcing something, probably in the not too distant future, and the Canadians have put forward $15 million U.S.
So, in fact, just this morning we were talking to President Obasanjo about how quickly the African Union can deploy the force, and what I can say is that the African Union is very committed to a rapid increase. What has happened so far is that the Government of Sudan has committed itself to accepting an expanded mission, but exactly how big that will be, what the mandate of it will be, that is something that the stars -- not been quite worked out with the Sudanese Government.
QUESTION: While you're there --
MR. RANNEBERGER: Yeah.
QUESTION: Do Russia, Algeria and Pakistan -- you mentioned China extracting oil, Mr. Natsios did -- do they have commercial interests there, those three countries?
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: There was a --
QUESTION: The reason I ask --
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Pakistan just took over the oil concessions of Chevron-Texaco. I don't know whether Algeria or Russia does, but Pakistan and China do. That's not secret information.
QUESTION: The Secretary did an interview and, surprisingly, said commercial interests motivated countries to not support the U.S. on genocide. He bracketed these four but he didn't pinpoint which, if all, or possibly all of the four, he is accusing.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: I don't know about the other two. I can tell you Pakistan and China clearly do have commercial interests.
QUESTION: So does Russia.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Russia does, too?
QUESTION: Russia, too. And while we have you, can you respond, do you want to respond, to the -- I don't know if you saw it -- the Sudanese leader -- you folks have identified some of them, Sheikh Musa Hilal as a bad guy, and they said, you know, he's just a legitimate tribal leader. Do you want to respond to that?
MR. RANNEBERGER: Well, I don't want to respond specifically to the Sudanese Government, but what I will say is from the outset what we've told the Sudanese Government is that they need to take control of the situation, that there is clearly active government support for what the Jingaweit are doing, so the government is linked to this. I think the fact that you see Musa Hilal, who is one of the Jingaweit leaders -- make no mistake about it -- running around Khartoum giving interviews to the international press, flying on government helicopters, indicates the degree of collaboration there. And what we have said is that these Jingaweit leaders need to be held accountable, and that includes Musa Hilal.
QUESTION: I don't suppose he could be a tribal leader and, at the same time, be a --
MR. RANNEBERGER: He can be -- I think he wears four or five hats. I mean, one is, you know, tribal leader. The other is, you know, prominent sheikh and the other is Jingaweit leader. He is both. In fact, his father, you know, was a major sheikh down in Darfur so there's a family -- but, I mean, no, he's a prominent family from Darfur, but he's also a Jingaweit leader.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: He was reportedly in jail. When the government let him out, he was in jail for murdering 13 Africans in -- I think it was in Port Sudan, if I'm not mistaken.
QUESTION: When you say that you spoke to Obasanjo and they want a rapid increase of the force, what's the estimate for when you can get the expanded force in?
MR. RANNEBERGER: Well, we're not -- we're deliberately, of course, not saying timetables because I think it's artificial to do that. But what we have said, and what the UN resolution says, is: with the utmost urgency. So we are looking at some degree of expansion during the month of October, but we're not setting specific -- what we would consider to be deadlines, X number of people by X date.
I mean, the African Union, in our view, deserves enormous credit for the job that they've done so far, getting the 450 people in. They have mobilized -- I mean, within about six weeks of getting the ceasefire monitoring agreement in place, they had that number of people on the ground. That is extraordinary for any organization. They have already gone fairly far along in the planning for the expansion of the force and in approaching the different members of the African Union who would contribute troops. So they're pretty far along. So we are confident in their commitment and hopeful that it will happen quite quickly.
QUESTION: I have two questions. One was about what you're predicting in the east, what you're -- some statistics on what you're seeing in the east. And the other is that it just strikes me that we are not treating -- the U.S. Government is not treating the Government of Sudan like a government who we hold responsible for a genocide, and I'm wondering if --
MR. RANNEBERGER: We're not?
QUESTION: Well --
MR. RANNEBERGER: You should talk to them.
QUESTION: I mean, the meetings and the -- it just -- I'm wondering if you feel the intent to commit -- the intent to destroy an ethnic group, in whole or in part, is something held by -- uniformly or do you feel that the people you met from the Sudanese Government in Khartoum had that intent or do you --
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: The statement Secretary Powell made did not deal with intent, as I understand it. It dealt with reality, what had actually happened.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) genocide.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Well, I think the word "intent," according to the State Department, is not a critical element of that. What is what is what you actually did. And I have to tell you, they think that we're singling them out, we're putting them under more pressure than it's ever had before. The Secretary spent an enormous amount of time building the international coalition. The President has made calls. They think we're going after them. And we are.
The question, of course, is not whether we go after them, but how we resolve the crisis. We have 1.5 million people in those camps. We have a pending locust plague, a potential drought and a war still going on. Our first priority right now is to end the conflict, get the people back to their villages, before this turns into a much worse tragedy than it is now. This crisis has not peaked and we have to keep focused on those people's lives. If we simply want to make a series of statements, it's fine to say them in the abstract, but if they're not connected to changes on the ground in terms of the government's behavior, what use are they? Our focus has been, and the Secretary's focus, on changing the behavior of the Sudanese Government, which is what we're about doing right now.
QUESTION: You're saying this --
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Oh, the second question. These -- predicting what's going to happen in the future, I don't think is very useful. Our view is that it would be very dangerous if another conflict broke out and we urge restraint by all parties in the east.
QUESTION: I'm just curious, you know, as you well know, there are so many tribes in the Darfur region. Even if you come up with some sort of settlement that involves the AU forces, for the long term what's the real solution to bringing peace to that part of Sudan?
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: One of the things that people aren't sort of getting is it's not just the atrocities. I want to mention this again. It's not just the atrocities, not the burning the villages. It's the animal herds. There's an old saying in Sudan, "If the animals die, the people die." It's not just a savings account. It's the survival of a race of people. They've all had their savings accounts and their lifeline and their coping mechanisms now completely taken away from them. I would say not as a diplomatic matter but as an economic matter, we must deal as aid agencies and as an international aid system with this massive transfer of wealth, and I think it would be appropriate for some countries in the international system, and maybe UN agencies, to get involved in some mediation, tribal mediation, to see if some of the animals, the herds, can't be moved back into the hands of the Africans where they were looted from. I think that is one of the things we're going to be working on. Europeans are talking about this. I'm talking about the aid workers who know the people on the ground. This is not a diplomatic thing between the Sudanese Government and the rebels. This is between traditional tribal leaders, village heads, and there is actually some beginning discussion going on of that which, actually, we think would calm the situation down really substantially if that could be worked out. I'm not predicting it can be, but we're going to make an attempt at it.
QUESTION: What's the risk of this conflict spreading to Chad?
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: It's already spread to Chad. There's 200,000 people who are displaced, who are refugees. I know people are very concerned about the stability of Chad under these circumstances. You know, the President of Chad is a Zagawa. He's from the same tribe as part of the rebel -- he wasn't aligned with the rebels, but there's been -- this instability has spilled over into neighboring countries.
QUESTION: Could you capsule -- or I don't know if you care to elaborate more than a capsule* -- what kind of help are you getting from Kofi Annan or from the UN?
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Oh, the UN has been very helpful, I think it's fair to say. Mike, do you want to --
QUESTION: What have they done for you lately?
MR. RANNEBERGER: Just on the political side, let me say, and I'll let Andrew talk about the humanitarian side. The Secretary has been in intensive contact with Kofi Annan on the issue. He's been extremely supportive of both Security Council resolutions. He actually spoke out in favor of those and I think his support was important in getting the kind of strong votes that we got. So that's one.
Secondly, he's been very supportive of the African Union effort and that's been very important, I think, in mobilizing the international community behind the African Union.
And thirdly, he's actually put tangible support behind that. The UN has now dispatched experts to assist the African Union in its planning process to work alongside the European Union experts and the U.S. experts. So it's been quite tangible.
Of course, I would also point out that Kofi Annan timed his visit to Sudan to virtually coincide with the Secretary's visit. He presented to the government a very similar set of actions that they needed to take, which mirrored what we have done, and then took the initiative to seek a very close follow-up coordination between ourselves and the UN in monitoring the government compliance with that. So I'd say it's really been quite a close and tangible cooperation.
QUESTION: He was asked about Annan in this interview. He said, look, he's an administrator of the United Nations, it's really the Security Council that counts, and then he went on to speak of these four countries and about their commercial interest. This is an exceptional, I think, indictment of the commonplace situation where people put money ahead of humanity.
But you feel you're getting terrific support from the UN, huh?
MR. RANNEBERGER: I will say, and let him talk about the humanitarian --
QUESTION: Are any of these four countries helping you?
MR. RANNEBERGER: No, I'm -- the question was, though, to what extent is Kofi Annan being supportive.
QUESTION: Yeah, look at -- Powell is saying he's only as effective as the Council would have him be.
MR. RANNEBERGER: Right. But I think one point there is that the votes, if you look at the votes on both resolutions, there was, I think, 11 to -- 13 to 0 at one point and then 11 to 4, and that does, in large part, I think, reflect the kind of support that Annan put behind that. But, that said, obviously there are limits on what can be achieved in the resolutions as long as you have certain people on the Council who possess vetoes and who aren't going to be supportive. So that raises the whole question of to what extent you're going to have sanctions language in the resolutions and all that. But I was addressing that narrow point about Annan.
But the Security Council -- the resolutions that have been approved by the Security Council, we think, have been constructive and they really have put a tremendous amount of pressure on Khartoum. We've seen after each resolution movement on the part of the Sudanese Government -- not enough, not far enough, but it's had an impact. It's had an impact in – specifically, in seeing the degree to which the Sudanese Government has signaled its willingness to accept this African Union mission in.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: I might just add something with respect to the rebels. I went and met with the rebels because they have been confiscating UN trucks, food and arresting UN staff, WFP staff and NGO staff. I met with the rebel leadership and I said, "I'm not here to talk about politics, but you are interfering with our relief effort and I want you to stop doing it. Those trucks are paid for with U.S. Government taxpayer money. The food comes from the United States and those employees are paid for with U.S. taxpayer money." And I said, "So as far as we're concerned, you're stealing our trucks, our food and our staff. And the President is angry about it and Secretary Powell is angry about it. Stop doing it." And they said they had not understood that. I think -- I said, "Do you think the UN has an independent source of taxes that fund all this stuff? Where do you think it comes from?" They don't kind of get all those things. I said, "Stop doing it. Leave the relief effort on its own to be neutral. Don't put soldiers on them. Don't put military equipment on them, on either side. And there's a set of rules that OCHA, UN OCHA has done, which is the Humanitarian Office, which, by the way, John Eglin and his staff, in my view, have done a spectacular job, the best I've ever seen, of that office since it was formed in 1991 in an emergency. Extremely aggressive, truth-telling, very well organized, their people on the ground are taking risks every day, doing the right thing, and I want to commend them.
QUESTION: Back to the AU force, will they have a mandate to actually kill Jingaweit militias or will they have -- I mean, can you talk about how it's actually going to work to drive the militia from the villages that they've stolen, so to speak?
MR. RANNEBERGER: The current African Union mission, the people that are on the ground now, have a mandate to react to violence if they’re in the presence of it. In effect, what's happening is they're sending out civilian or military observers to investigate incidents of alleged violence. The AU mandate for the troops that are there allows those troops to react if they see civilians in imminent danger.
Now, with the expanded African Union mission, there will be an expanded mandate. Exactly what that expanded mandate will say, I don't want to speculate on, because the African Union is still discussing it with their people. But I think the word that President Obasanjo used in the Security Council is the operative word. He himself, in his briefing to the Security Council, said we are looking at a proactive African Union mission. And by proactive, we're talking about things like patrolling, getting people out to IDP camps. I think what you're going to see is, as these observers and troops deploy more broadly in Darfur, they are going to have a deterrent impact on the violence.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? Does the -- can you tell me if there's a State Department position on whether the AU expanded force would be allowed to seek out and kill Jingaweit militias?
MR. RANNEBERGER: We've, again, what we have said consistently, and I want to continue to say it, is we really do have a high respect for what the African Union has done, and we are committed to supporting the mission. What we have urged is a proactive approach. That's what they're taking. And I think what I just said speaks for itself. We're looking for them to be getting out, and I think, to the extent they get out, obviously, they will also be in a position to put themselves where they might be able to witness more acts of violence. But we're not calling for a specific mandate for the African Union force.
MR. CASEY: Jim, I think we've got time for one more.
QUESTION: Andrew, can you talk about the issue that came up following Secretary Powell's visit, which was -- or one of the issues that came up, which was that some of the people in the camp that he visited were allegedly harassed by the government afterwards, and those who talked to reporters were harassed. Do you know anything about that, the current state of --
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: It's happening in all the camps. There have been 80 delegations visiting. There are secret police and intelligence people in the camps. I would urge the government, just to avoid any further tension, to withdraw those people from the camps. They should not be in the camps, they are making matters worse, they are arresting people at night, because the UN and the NGOs all withdraw, under UN security rules, at night, and the bad stuff happens at night, from what we are being told. They arrest people, they torture some of them, some of them disappear into the prison system. They're particularly targeting young men.
When I was talking with the sheikhs during this incident that I told you about, there was a guy, a young man -- I didn't see him doing it until after it was all over -- he was taking pictures of all the people talking to me. I have given instructions to our staff, if anything happens in the Mornay camp, anybody disappears or anything, I want to hear about it instantly because we are going to take action on it diplomatically. The fact of the matter is they are making matters worse by the heavy-handed and abusive way in which they are behaving in these camps.
QUESTION: Well, with all due respect, I mean, this has been, as you say, continues to go on. This is months after the Secretary was there. What can you do to take it up diplomatically with the government so they know what's going on?
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: We thought -- yeah. Well, we thought what was happening earlier was an incident related to a visit. I think there's much more going on than just that. I think the displaced camps -- the government's worried that they've become sort of a haven for the SLA, or the young men could be recruited out of those camps, which typically happens in other conflicts. And so they're using extraordinarily aggressive and brutal measures to prevent that from happening. That is inappropriate. It is going to cause -- it's causing much more tension in the camps and it is could go back to hurt the Sudanese Government in the long run. I think they should just withdraw them. It's the first time anybody's told them to get these people out of the camps, so I'm making a public plea to them for the -- for their own interests, get them out of the camps.
QUESTION: When you say the crisis hasn't peaked, what are your latest estimates of how many people have died through direct violence and then through deprivation?
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: The WHO survey indicates different statistics in the three provinces. I would just urge you to read that. We think the WHO survey was a serious underestimate because it's only for two months, June through August. WFP has done a survey that would be for six months, and they're now -- they collected the data. It's on nutrition and mortality and it goes back six months.
The highest period of deaths was clearly early in the year. I asked a group of women -- it was about 50 or 60 women -- how many of them lost children, died, in the last six months. Fifty-five percent of the women raised their hands. And some of them lost more than one child. So I think in the spring, the death rates were much higher than any of us realized, including us. We did these predictive models. I think we underestimated the deaths earlier in the year.
QUESTION: So if it hasn't peaked, how many people will end up dying?
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Well, the -- I'm not going to go back and play numbers game. I want to see what the WFP survey is showing. One of the things that's very disturbing, the WHO survey, if you read the whole thing, on page 12 there's a chart of different age cohorts, and half of the kids between the ages of one and two are missing from the -- there's a misshaped bell curve. And the reason for that is we think most of those kids died earlier in the year.
So the problem we're faced with now is we don't know how much more violence there's going to be. There's a war going on now. There's more displacement going on. We don't know how bad the harvest is. We don't know whether the animal diseases are going to begin ratcheting because the animals can't move. That increases the risk of disease. And finally, we don't know what the locust plague is going to do. So what I'm saying is the crisis hasn't peaked and the malaria season, the worst noise, is right now. It's just beginning. That's going to kill a lot of people.
QUESTION: Thank you.