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:
- 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.
- The killings began in 2003 and continue today as the first genocide of the 21st century.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The attacks have led to the deaths of at least 300,000 people and the displacement of more than 2.5 million others.
- In 2009, Al Bashir became the first sitting president to be indicted by International Criminal Court for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape and pillage against civilians in Darfur.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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