Recent Genocides
Genocide has been a part of the human experience for as long as humans have been around. As the world looks forward to solving issues like poverty and disease, recent genocides still threaten the developing world.

The “Third World War” in the Democratic Republic of Congo

One of the most recent genocides happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Genocide Watch reports that genocide continues to take place. Moreover, a report by the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights states there has been evidence of recent genocides in the DRC as early as 1993.

Much of the recent genocide is involves two factions: the Raia Mutomboki militia, which seeks to kill or expel anyone speaking Rwandan or Congolese, and the rival Hutu militia called the FDLR, which attacks anyone associated with the Raia Mutomboki. Both sides have slaughtered civilians and combatants along ethnic grounds in hopes of annihilating their rival ethnic groups from the greater Congo area.

Considered the bloodiest conflict since World War II, reports estimate that almost six million people have died since fighting started in 1996. Poverty, famine, disease and sexual violence continue to devastate the DRC. In 2010, a U.N. representative called the DRC the rape capital of the world. Additionally, civil unrest stemming from the postponement of the 2016 presidential elections displaced approximately 3.9 million people by the end of 2017.

Humanitarian organizations have provided aid, but the problems within the DRC are far from fixed. The International Rescue Committee expects to reach 8.4 million Congolese by 2020, focusing on improving the health and safety of women, children and the vulnerable.

The Darfur Genocide: First Genocide of the 21st Century

Darfur is a region in Western Sudan with a population of around seven million people. Since 2003, the Sudanese government-backed militia called the Janjaweed have laid waste to many villages in Darfur. The violence and recent genocide began as a series of reprisals for a 2003 attack on a Sudanese Air Force Base, and it was claimed that the residents of Darfur were responsible for the attack. The Janjaweed target civilians, committing mass murder and rape and looting economic resources. The U.N. estimates 4.7 million people have been affected by the fighting since 2004–half of them children. A 2016 report indicated that more than 600,000 people have died directly or indirectly because of the conflict.

Humanitarian access has been historically restricted and inhibited by the Sudanese government. The Sudanese government has been accused of intimidating and arresting aid workers. For example, in May 2005, two aid workers from Médecins sans Frontières were arrested at gunpoint under suspicion of “publishing false information” after a report by the organization was released on rape in Darfur.

The Yazidi Genocide

Most of the world’s Yazidi’s live in the Sinjar province of northern Iraq and have practiced their distinct traditions for thousands of years. However, the Yazidis are a religious and ethnic minority publicly reviled by ISIS. As a result, in August 2014, ISIS launched a genocide on the Yazidi communities of Sinjar. The ISIS fighters surged through the region, finding little military resistance. The local Peshmerga, a Kurdish security force, quickly abandoned their checkpoints and the Yazidi communities who depended on them for defense. The defenseless Yazidi villages offered little in the way of a military objective, so ISIS entered the region with one goal: the total extermination and subjugation of the Yazidi population. According to U.N. reports, Yazidi girls and women, as young as nine years old, were sold into sex slavery and trafficked across the Syrian border. Men and young boys were separated from their families–the men executed and the boys forced into ISIS training camps. Hundreds were summarily executed upon capture. All evidence points to an intentional and highly organized scheme by ISIS to end the Yazidi presence in Iraq, and potentially the world.

Access to the Sinjar region has been difficult for both humanitarian organizations and displaced Yazidis trying to return to their homeland. However, the Yazidis are not alone. Nadia’s Initiative, an advocacy organization founded by Nadia Murad, a 24-year-old Yazidi woman and survivor of the genocide, has gathered support for the Yazidi people by releasing a recent report on the current status of Sinjar. It has generated a unified humanitarian effort through the Sinjar Action Fund and has partnered with the French government to de-mine the explosives left behind by ISIS fighters in the region.

In the horrific wake of recent genocides, it can be easy to lose hope that genocide will be eradicated. However, organizations like the Sinjar Action Fund and the International Rescue Committee have and continue to work to produce a world without genocide. As solutions are being presented, it is up to everyone to implement them.

– Peter Buffo

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts on the War in Darfur
The war in Darfur, a region in Sudan, has been the reason for mass slaughter and rape of Darfuri men, women and children; what the U.S. has labeled a genocide. The war in Darfur has been called the worst humanitarian crisis of the century and its effects are still seen today, specifically the displacement of Darfurians into neighboring countries.

10 Facts about the War in Darfur:

  1. Darfur is a region in Western Sudan, the largest country in Africa, that encompasses an area roughly the size of Texas. Darfur had a pre-conflict population of about six million people.
  2. The killings began in 2003 and continue today as the first genocide of the 21st century.
  3. Following independence from Britain in 1956, Sudan suffered two civil wars between the North and South that lasted for 21 years. Though both sides signed a peace deal that ended the conflict in 2005, they failed to consider the effect it had on Darfur, which remained underdeveloped and racially divided.
  4. In 2003, two rebel groups, Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), started a rebellion against the Sudanese government. They demanded an end to the oppression of Darfur’s non-Arabic population and economic marginalization.
  5. Sudanese President Al-Bashir responded by giving governmental support and money to Islamic militias, also known as the Janjaweed — or ‘Devils on Horseback’ in Arabic — to combat the rebels and civilians in Darfur instead of sending the military to intervene.
  6. The attacks have led to the deaths of at least 300,000 people and the displacement of more than 2.5 million others.
  7. In 2009, Al Bashir became the first sitting president to be indicted by the International Criminal Court for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape and pillage against civilians in Darfur.
  8. Around 3.2 million people in Darfur, about half the population, rely on humanitarian aid for food, healthcare, clean water and countless other services, according to the U.N.
  9. In 2007, the U.N. Security Council authorized the A.U.-U.N. Hybrid Operation in Darfur, known as UNAMID, with a mandate to protect civilians. They have deployed more than 18,000 troops and police, but resources are still overstretched.
  10. As of Nov. 3 this year, UNAMID welcomed a unilateral six-month truce by two armed groups and are waiting on Abdul Wahid El Nur, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Army, to make a similar declaration.

Much has been done to help resolve the ongoing conflict in Darfur by the U.N., A.U., N.A.T.O. and the U.S., but hundreds of thousands of displaced Darfurians are still in the necessity of aid. The six-month cessation of hostilities could be the first step towards peace in the region.

Mayan Derhy

Photo: Flickr