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The weak have always been oppressed by the strong. This gives rise to unjust treatment to a particular section of the society and leads to violent conflicts, often taking a very heavy toll on the life of numerous innocent people. The Sudan Dartfur conflict is an inevitable result of the unjust treatment to the people of Darfur region, after Sudan attained independence. Moreover the geography of the region and the local politics of the neighboring countries like Chad, Libya and Ethiopia have also played an important role in development of this conflict, which has already become critical. The horror of this crisis is evident from a report filed by an UN envoy, who had personally visited the region.
It states, “ The 23 Fur villages in the Shattaya Administration unit have been completely depopulated, looted, and burnt to the ground ( the team observed several such sites driving through the area for two days). Meanwhile, dotted alongside these charred locations are unarmed, populated and functioning Arab settlements. In some locations, the distance between a destroyed Fur village and an Arab village is less than 500 meters”.( Darfur Conflict) This conflict is escalating for the worst as time passes by, and is not likely to end in the near future. The worst part is that the world community is merely a spectator in this issue, and the NGOs have started withdrawing from the region, because of a security threat to their own staff.
History/Geography of Darfur
A review of the geography and the history of this region will help in developing a proper understanding of the conflict. The Darfur region, is surrounded by Chad, Libya, Egypt and the rest of Sudan on the east and the south. This region is a mix of Sahara desert, the volcanic mountains, and plains. The very little agriculture is heavily dependent on monsoons, which are often irregular and scanty. In short, the geography of the region puts infinite limitations to the development of the people of this region. The Darfur region (Darfur ) Darfur’s traceable history dates back to the 14th century. It had dynastic rule till the 20th century, when it was colonized by the British, and merged with Sudan. This country became independent in 1956. The policies of the government always favored the population residing on the eastern belt of Sudan, specially along the river Nile.
The population of the western belt was completely sidelined. This imbalance of treatment resulted in an opposition. The oppressed people of the Darfur region raised their voice against the oppressor, the government of Sudan.. All this happened in the couple of decades after the Independence. This is the root of the Sudan-Darfur conflict.( Darfur conflict) The Libyan ruler, Gaddafi and his ambition of establishing Arab supremacy, was also responsible for the ill- treatment of the Darfur population by the Sudan government.(Darfur conflict). The conflict ( 2003 – 2007 ) The rebel groups of Darfur region had become active since 2001, but the conflict started with an armed attack on Golo, the head quarter of Jebel Marra district, on 26 February 2003.
On 25 April 2003, the rebels attacked al-Fashir. It was unprecedented success for the rebel groups. At this time, the Sudanese army was busy on the southern and the northern fronts. Nor was it capable to fight in the desert. The rebels continued their onward march by winning 34 out of 38 engagements with the Sudan military forces. At this point of time, the Sudan government inducted herders of the Bagga tribe, known as Janjaweed, into the military offensive operations. Janjaweeds were not military forces, but well armed groups, supported by the government. The retrieval of the situation was very fast, and in early 2004, Janjaweed had already killed many thousands and forced many millions to vacate. The victims were of course, the non-Arabs of the Darfur region. Over a million took refuge in the neighboring Chad, which mediated for a ceasefire, in April 2004.
This agreement did not bring the expected peace. The magnitude of violence spread by the Janjawweds compelled the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to issue a warning of a genocide in the Darfur and private observers accused of ethnic cleansing. In May 2004, Brussels based International crisis group expressed fear that as many as 350,000 people may die due to starvation and diseases. The efforts by the African Union to stop the armed conflict have failed, as it was able to deploy only 7000 soldiers and had no more resources. Sudan did not keep its word, according to the 2004 agreement. International intervention was a must, as the terror leashed by Janjaweeds was alarming. In July 2006, UN Secretary General called for a 18000 strong UN peace keeping force in the area.
Sudan refused any such move by the UN, and the USA threatened of serious consequences. Sudan was backed by Russia and China in the UN security council, and resolutions of deployment of peace keeping forces were vetoed by them. The UN peacekeeping force could not be deployed due to opposition from Sudan, and the Janjaweed terror continued. They used rape as an innovative approach and not their arms. Thousands of non-Arab females were raped, and since raped women were not accepted by the society, they were eliminated from the community.
The true and exact reports of what was happening on the ground are not available, because of severe restrictions by the Sudan government on the media. In early 2007, one more futile peace treaty was signed by Sudan, and violated. Violence was to stop for 60 days according to this treaty. Instead, the Sudanese army killed the African Union peacekeeping forces and spread the violence into the bordering villages of Chad. US President Bush threatened of severe sanctions against Sudan, on April 18 2007, if it did not stop violence. In May 2007, a peace treaty brokered by Saudi Arabia, was signed by Chad and Sudan, in which both parties promised not to feed the rebel groups which worked against the either of the governments.
The increase in affected sites in the region, as shown by ‘google earth’, proves that this treaty has also not worked. The climax of the situation was reached in June 2007 when ‘Oxfam’ announced pull out from Gereida, the largest refugee camp in Darfur. The main reason for this pull out was that the local authorities were not able to ensure security of the aid workers. Employees of NGOs working in this region are murdered and vehicles of UN and other organizations are being hijacked. Many NGOs are forced to think of pulling out of the region, as security threat to the life of their employees is grave enough. Amnesty international has shown enough evidences to prove that both Russia and China are backing Sudan by supplying arms, ammunition and other equipments.(Darfur conflict)
While the local non-Arabs of the Darfur region are mass killed, and women raped in a horrifying manner, many times in open, the world community is sitting and watching the show. The actions by the world community are limited to issuing sympathy messages to the affected and threats to Sudan. The fact that human aid agencies are also planning to leave the region, is indeed hair raising. No force has been able to stop the terror. International efforts Many international agencies have responded to the humanitarian situation in Darfur. A list of the name of the agency with its contribution is as follows: 1. Action against hunger : Focus on food security and nutrition in eastern Chad 2. Africare : Support farmers in Chad and refugees in Gozbebe 3. Air serv international: provide airlifts to the UN high commissioner 4. American Jewish word service : Raise funds to look after health and hygiene
5. CARE Canada: Provide food, water, sanitation and health assistance throughout Darfur and three camps in Chad 6. CARE international : Hygiene, sanitation health and food and reproductive health 7. Carita Internationalis : Helps Sudanese refugees in Chad and develops infrastructure like roads and bridges. 8. Catholic relief services: Manage refugee camps in Farchana and Kounungo. Handles transit center at Touloum 9. Church world service: Raise funds. Provide health care around Khartoum. Emergency management with other partners. 10. International medical corps: Health care nutrition programs catering to 18000 to 25000 people in three camps. 11. International rescue committee: Focus on water, sanitation and health care, services for children and women.
12. Medair: Health, supply of essential drugs, 13. Medicins Sans Frontieres : Medical. Food, sanitation and water assistance to 25000 people. Vaccination against measles. 14. Norwegian refugee council: collect and analyze information on internal displacement. 15. Oxfam: Provide latrines, water, promote hygiene in al-Fashir and Kebkayia in north Darfur. Provide facilities to refugees in Chad also. Plans to work in south Darfur also. 16. Refugees international : survey extent of displacement in Sudan and Chad. 17. Save the children : Provide plastic sheet for shelter. Also provides jerry cans, blankets and food to 10000 IDPs. ( Hoile David) Many individuals have also come forward to help in this crisis, by the way of donation or bring the crisis to the attention of the world community.
Some examples include: 1 . Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have donated US $ 1 million to UNHCR and two NGOS to help the affected people in Darfur. As brand ambassadors of UNHCR. They have visited the refugee camps in Chad also.( Maxim news) 2. Actor celebrities like Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and George Clooney have helped in bringing the issue to the notice of the world community.( Darfur conflict) 3. A music video is released by ‘ Green day’, in which the affected people of Darfur speak of their experiences ( Darfur conflict)
4. Marvel comics have released a comic book, which deals with the conflict.( Darfur conflict) The world community needs to focus on two issues immediately. First is to stop the rage of Sudan army and the Janjaweeds, even if it implies an assault on Sudan and her allies, Russia and China. The second is to stop the exit of NGOs from the region. The Sudan government has to be compelled to look after the security of the aid personnel.
1. Darfur conflict , wikipedia the free encyclopedia, 21 June 2007, Retrieved on 22 June 2007 from: < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darfur_conflict > 2. Darfur, wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 21 June 2007, Retrieved on 22 June 2007 from: < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darfur > 3. Hoile David, NGOs active on Darfur crisis, The European-Sudanese public affairs council, Retrieved on 22 June 2007 from: < http://www.darfurinformation.com/hc_ngos_active.asp > 4. Maximnews, Anfelina Jolie, Brad Pitt donate US $ 1 million to UNHCR and two other NGOS, 2 June 2007, retrieved on 22 June 2007 from: http://www.maximsnews.com/107mnunjune01unhcrangelinajoliebradpittcontributionafrica.htm> 5.