During 2003 and 2004, then-U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan Mukesh Kapila wrote dozens of memos to his superiors at the United Nations, alerting them to the violence in Darfur. FRONTLINE has obtained two of those documents, addressed to former U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland and former Undersecretary-general for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast, among others.
The first memo, dated Dec. 18, 2003, describes Kapila's emergency relocation of some of his staff and Khartoum's obstruction of humanitarian access to refugees. The March 22, 2004 memo describes "ethnic cleansing," "systematic forced displacement," and "large scale armed violence and incidents of murder, rape, torture and abduction directed specifically against populations of black African tribal origin" showing signs of high-level organization. The memo estimates a total of "110,000 refugees and 600,000-700,000" internally displaced persons at that time.