THE CRISIS IN DARFUR
Over 300,000 people from the Fur, Massaleit, and Zaghawa tribes, among others, have been killed and injured in Darfur and Chad between 2003 and 2006. Their children are dying, their culture is being erased, and the killing continues.
From Amnesty International:
Darfur is situated in the West of Sudan and covers an area the size of France (the size of Texas). For a number of years it was the scene of sporadic clashes between farming communities such as the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa, and nomadic groups, which led to many deaths and the destruction and looting of homes. The government blamed competition over scarce resources for the clashes.
In February 2003 a new armed opposition group, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) took up arms against the government, because of what they perceived as the lack of government protection for their people and the marginalisation and underdevelopment of the region. The support base of this armed group came mainly from the agricultural groups in the region. Shortly afterwards another armed group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) emerged.
The government of Sudan responded by allowing free rein to Arab militias known as the Janjawid (guns on horseback) who began attacking villages, killing, raping and abducting people, destroying homes and other property, including water sources and looting livestock. At times government troops also attacked villages alongside the Janjawid, and government aircraft have been bombing villages sometimes just before Janjawid attacks, suggesting that these attacks were coordinated. The links between the Sudanese armed forces and the Janjawid are incontrovertible, the Janjawid are now wearing uniforms provided by the army.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of actions by the Janjawid, government forces and rebel groups. The UN estimates that there are now two million internally displaced people in Darfur who have fled from their burnt villages and taken refuge within Darfur, mostly in towns and camps, often in very poor conditions, while more than 200,000 have crossed the border into Chad.
On 5 May 2006 a peace agreement was signed between the Sudanese government and one of the militia groups in Darfur. On 16 May 2006 the UN Security Council agreed to send UN peace-keeping forces to Darfur to help African Union (AU) troops with the implementation of the peace agreement.
Up to now, the AU has not been able to effectively protect civilians from attacks by armed groups (some of whom are government sponsored), and attacks are continuing with impunity. While the government of Sudan prevents the UN troops from entering the country the violence has escalated with attacks between rebel groups putting millions more civilians at an even greater risk.