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Conflict in Darfur

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Conflict in Darfur

War in Darfur
Part of the Sudanese Civil Wars

A group of pro-government militia in Darfur
Date 2003– ongoing[1]
Location Darfur, Sudan
Result Conflict ongoing
Belligerents
Sudan Janjaweed
Sudan Sudanese Armed Forces
Sudan Sudanese Police
Foreign mercenaries
African Union
Commanders and leaders
Abdul Wahid al Nur Sudan Omar al-Bashir
Sudan Musa Hilal
Sudan Hamid Dawai
Sudan Ali Kushayb
Sudan Ahmed Haroun[6]
Rodolphe Adada
United Nations Martin Luther Agwai
Strength
NRF/JEM: Unknown N/A 9,065
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown 51 peacekeepers killed
178,258–461,520 excess deaths,[11] 2,850,000 Displaced (UN estimate), 450,000 Displaced (Sudanese estimate)

War in Darfur
Timeline
International response
UNMIS / AMIS / UNAMID
ICC investigation
Combatants
SLM
JEM
LJM
Janjaweed
Other articles
History of Darfur
Bibliography

The War in Darfur[12][13] is a major armed-conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. It began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel groups took up arms against the Government of Sudan which they accused of marginalizing Darfur's non-Arab population. The government responded to attacks by arming Janjaweed militias and carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Arabs in Darfur resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of civilians and the indictment of Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir for genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.[14][15]

One side of the conflict was composed mainly of the official Sudanese military and police, and the Janjaweed, a Sudanese militia group recruited mostly from the Arabized indigenous Africans and few Arab Bedouin of the northern Rizeigat; the majority of other Arab groups in Darfur remain uninvolved in the conflict.[16] The other combatants are made up of rebel groups, notably the SLM/A and the JEM, recruited primarily from the non-Arab Muslim Fur, Zaghawa, and Masalit ethnic groups. Although the Sudanese government publicly denies that it supports the Janjaweed, evidence supports claims that it has provided financial assistance and weapons to the militia as well as coordinated joint attacks,many against civilians, along with the group.[17][18][19]

There are various estimates on the number of human casualties which range up to several hundred thousand dead, from either direct combat or starvation and disease inflicted by the conflict. There have also been mass displacements and coercive migrations, forcing millions into refugee camps or over the border and creating a large humanitarian crisis and is regarded by many, like US Secretary of State Colin Powell, as either a genocide, or acts of genocide.[20]

The Sudanese government and the JEM signed a ceasefire agreement in February 2010, with a tentative agreement to pursue further peace. The JEM has the most to gain from the talks and could see semi-autonomy much like South Sudan.[21] However, talks have been disrupted by accusations that the Sudanese army launched raids and air strikes against a village, violating the February agreement. The JEM, the largest rebel group in Darfur, has said they will boycott further negotiations.[22]

List of abbreviations used in this article

AU: African Union
DLF: Darfur Liberation Front
ICC: International Criminal Court
IDP: Internally Displaced Person
JEM: Justice and Equality Movement
SLM/A/A: Sudan Liberation Movement/Army
SLM/A: Sudan Liberation Movement
SPLA: Sudan People's Liberation Army
UN: United Nations
UNAMID: United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur
UNSC: United Nations Security Council

Timeline

Origins of the conflict

The conflict's origin goes back to land disputes between semi-nomadic livestock herders and those who practice sedentary agriculture.[23]

Since the population of Darfur is predominantly Muslim, the conflict may not be only about race or religion, but about resources as the nomadic tribes facing drought are going after the territory of sedentary farmers.[24]

Allegations of apartheid

Some people contend that in the beginning of 1991, non-Arabs of the Zaghawa people of Sudan complained that they were victims of an intensifying Arab apartheid campaign.[25] Sudanese Arabs, who control the government, are widely referred to as practicing apartheid against Sudan's non-Arab citizens.[26] The government is accused of "deftly manipulat(ing) Arab solidarity" to carry out policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing against non-Arabs in Darfur.[26]

American University economist George Ayittey accuses the Arab government of Sudan of practicing racist acts against black citizens.[27] According to Ayittey, "In Sudan... the Arabs monopolized power and excluded blacks – Arab apartheid."[28] Many African commentators join Ayittey in accusing Sudan of practising Arab apartheid.[29][30][31][32][33]

Boston Globe columnist Fred Jacoby has accused Sudan of practicing apartheid against Christians in what is now South Sudan "where tens of thousands of black Africans in the country's southern region, most of them Christians or animists, have been abducted and sold into slavery by Arab militias backed by the Islamist regime in Khartoum."[34][35]

Alan Dershowitz has pointed to Sudan as an example of a government that "actually deserve(s)" the appellation "apartheid."[36] Other distinguished people who have accused the regime in Sudan of practising "apartheid" against non-Arabs include former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler.[37]

The usage of the terms "Arab" and "Black" has been opposed, because all parties involved in the Darfur conflict—whether they are referred to as 'Arab' (particularly Baggara/Janjaweed) or as 'African,’ are equally indigenous. The Janjaweed group recruited mostly from the Arabized indigenous Africans/Baggara and few Arab Bedouin of the northern Rizeigat; while the majority of Arab groups in Darfur remain uninvolved in the conflict.[16]

Beginning of the conflict

The beginning point of the conflict in the Darfur region is typically said to be 26 February 2003, when a group calling itself the Darfur Liberation Front (DLF) publicly claimed credit for an attack on Golo, the headquarters of Jebel Marra District. Even prior to this attack, however, a conflict had erupted in Darfur, as rebels had already attacked police stations, army outposts and military convoys, and the government had engaged in a massive air and land assault on the rebel stronghold in the Marrah Mountains. The rebels' first military action was a successful attack on an army garrison on the mountain on 25 February 2002 and the Sudanese government had been aware of a unified rebel movement since an attack on the Golo police station in June 2002. Chroniclers Julie Flint and Alex de Waal state that the beginning of the rebellion is better dated to 21 July 2001, when a group of Zaghawa and Fur met in Abu Gamra and swore oaths on the Qur'an to work together to defend against government-sponsored attacks on their villages.[38] It should be noted that nearly all of the residents of Darfur are Muslim, including the Janjaweed, as well as the government leaders in Khartoum.[39]

On 25 March 2003, the rebels seized the garrison town of Tine along the Chadian border, seizing large quantities of supplies and arms. Despite a threat by President Omar al-Bashir to "unleash" the army, the military had little in reserve. The army was already deployed both to the south, where the Second Sudanese Civil War was drawing to an end, and to the east, where rebels sponsored by Eritrea were threatening a newly constructed pipeline from the central oilfields to Port Sudan. The rebel guerilla tactic of hit-and-run raids to speed across the semi-desert region proved almost impossible for the army, untrained in desert operations, to counter. However, its aerial bombardment of rebel positions on the mountain was devastating.[40]

At 5:30 am on 25 April 2003, a joint Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) force in 33 Toyota Land Cruisers entered al-Fashir and attacked the sleeping garrison. In the next four hours, four Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships (according to the government; seven according to the rebels) were destroyed on the ground, 75 soldiers, pilots and technicians were killed and 32 were captured, including the commander of the air base, a Major General. The success of the raid was unprecedented in Sudan; in the twenty years of the war in the south, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) had never carried out such an operation.[41]

The Janjaweed enter the conflict (2003)

The al-Fashir raid was a turning point both militarily and psychologically. The armed forces had been humiliated by the al-Fashir raid and the government was faced with a difficult strategic situation. The incompetent armed forces would clearly need to be retrained and redeployed to fight this new kind of war and there were well-founded concerns about the loyalty of the many Darfurian non-commissioned officers and soldiers in the army. Responsibility for prosecuting the war was given to Sudanese military intelligence. Nevertheless, in the middle months of 2003, the rebels won 34 of 38 engagements. In May, the SLA destroyed a battalion at Kutum, killing 500 and taking 300 prisoners; and in mid-July, 250 were killed in a second attack on Tine. The SLA began to infiltrate farther east, threatening to extend the war into Kordofan.

However, at this point the government changed its strategy. Given that the army was being consistently defeated, the war effort depended on three elements: military intelligence, the air force, and the Janjaweed, armed Baggara herders whom the government had begun directing in suppression of a Masalit uprising in 1986–1999. The Janjaweed were put at the center of the new counter-insurgency strategy. Though the government consistently denied supporting the Janjaweed, military resources were poured into Darfur and the Janjaweed were outfitted as a paramilitary force, complete with communication equipment and some artillery. The military planners were doubtlessly aware of the probable consequences of such a strategy: similar methods undertaken in the Nuba Mountains and around the southern oil fields during the 1990s had resulted in massive human rights violations and forced displacements.[42]

The better-armed Janjaweed quickly gained the upper hand. By the spring of 2004, several thousand people – mostly from the non-Arab population – had been killed and as many as a million more had been driven from their homes, causing a major humanitarian crisis in the region. The crisis took on an international dimension when over 100,000 refugees poured into neighbouring Chad, pursued by Janjaweed militiamen, who clashed with Chadian government forces along the border. More than 70 militiamen and 10 Chadian soldiers were killed in one gun battle in April. A United Nations observer team reported that non-Arab villages were singled out while Arab villages were left untouched:

The 23 Fur villages in the Shattaya Administrative 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 unharmed, populated and functioning Arab settlements. In some locations, the distance between a destroyed Fur village and an Arab village is less than 500 meters.[43]

A 2011 study in the British Journal of Sociology, "The Displaced and Dispossessed of Darfur: Explaining the Sources of a Continuing State-Led Genocide,” examined 1,000 interviews with Black African participants who fled from 22 village clusters in Darfur to various refugee camps in 2003 and 2004. The study found that: 1) The frequency of hearing racial epithets during an attack was 70% higher when it was led by the Janjaweed alone compared to official police forces; it was 80% higher when the Janjaweed and the Sudanese Government attacked together; 2) Risk of displacement was nearly 110% higher during a joint attack compared to when the police or Janjaweed acted alone, and 85% higher when Janjaweed forces attacked alone compared to when the attack was only perpetrated by the Sudanese Government forces; 3) Attacks on food and water supplies made it 129% more likely for inhabitants to be displaced compared to attacks that involved house burnings or killing of persons; 4) Perpetrators knew and took “special advantage” of the susceptibility of Darfur residents to attacks focused on basic resources. This vulnerability came against the backdrop of increased regional desertification.[44]

2004–2005

In 2004, Chad brokered negotiations in N'Djamena, leading to the April 8 Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement between the Sudanese government, the JEM, and the SLA. One group which did not participate in the April cease-fire talks or agreement – the National Movement for Reform and Development — splintered from the JEM in April. Janjaweed and rebel attacks continued despite the ceasefire, and the African Union (AU) formed a Ceasefire Commission (CFC) to monitor its observance.

In August, the African Union sent 150 Rwandan troops in to protect the ceasefire monitors. It, however, soon became apparent that 150 troops would not be enough, so they were joined by 150 Nigerian troops.

On 18 September, the United Nations Security Council issued Resolution 1564 declaring that the government of Sudan had not met its commitments and expressing concern at helicopter attacks and assaults by the Janjaweed militia against villages in Darfur. It welcomed the intention of the African Union to enhance its monitoring mission in Darfur and urged all member states to support such efforts.

During April 2005, after the government of Sudan signed a ceasefire agreement with Sudan People's Liberation Army which led to the end of the Second Sudanese Civil War, the African Union Mission in Sudan force was increased by 600 troops and 80 military observers. In July, the force was increased by about 3,300 (with a budget of 220 million dollars). In April 2005, AMIS was increased to about 7,000.

The scale of the crisis led to warnings of an imminent disaster, with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warning that the risk of genocide was frighteningly real in Darfur. The scale of the Janjaweed campaign led to comparisons with the Rwandan Genocide, a parallel hotly denied by the Sudanese government. Independent observers noted that the tactics, which included dismemberment and killing of noncombatants and even young children and babies, were more akin to the ethnic cleansing used in the Yugoslav wars and warned that the region's remoteness meant that hundreds of thousands of people were effectively cut off from aid. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group had reported in May 2004 that over 350,000 people could potentially die as a result of starvation and disease.[45]


On 10 July 2005, Ex-SPLA leader John Garang was sworn in as Sudan's vice-president.[46] However, on 30 July, Garang died in a helicopter crash.[47] His death had long-term implications and, despite improved security, talks between the various rebels in the Darfur region progressed slowly.

An attack on the Chadian town of Adré near the Sudanese border led to the deaths of three hundred rebels in December. Sudan was blamed for the attack, which was the second in the region in three days.[48] The escalating tensions in the region led to the government of Chad declaring its hostility toward Sudan and calling for Chadian citizens to mobilise themselves against the "common enemy".[49] (See Chad-Sudan conflict)

May Peace Agreement (2006)


On 5 May 2006, the government of Sudan signed the Abuja, Nigeria.

The 115-page agreement was broad in scope and included issues on national and state power-sharing, demilitarization of the Janjaweed and other militias, an integration of SLM/A and JEM troops into the Sudanese Armed Forces and police, a system of federal wealth-sharing for the promotion of Darfurian economic interests, a referendum on the future status of Darfur and measures to promote the flow of humanitarian aid into the region.[19][51][52]

Representatives of the African Union, Nigeria, Libya, the USA, the UK, the UN, the EU, the Arab League, Egypt, Canada, Norway and the Netherlands served as witnesses to the agreement.[19]

July–August 2006

July and August 2006 saw renewed fighting, with international aid organizations considering leaving due to attacks against their personnel. Kofi Annan called for the deployment of 18,000 international peacekeepers in Darfur to replace the African Union force of 7,000 (AMIS).[53][54] In one incident at Kalma, seven women, who ventured out of a refugee camp to gather firewood, were gang-raped, beaten and robbed by the Janjaweed. When they had finished, the attackers stripped them naked and jeered at them as they fled.[55][56][57]

In a private meeting on 18 August, Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, warned that Sudan appeared to be preparing for a major military offensive in Darfur.[58] The warning came a day after UN Commission on Human Rights special investigator Sima Samar stated that Sudan's efforts in the region remained poor despite the May Agreement.[59] On 19 August, Sudan reiterated its opposition to replacing the 7,000 AU force with a 17,000 UN one,[60] resulting in the US issuing a "threat" to Sudan over the "potential consequences" of this position.[61]

On 24 August, Sudan rejected attending a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting to explain its plan of sending 10,000 Sudanese soldiers to Darfur instead of the proposed 20,000 UN peacekeeping force.[62] The UNSC announced it would hold the meeting despite Sudan's non-attendance.[63] Also on 24 August, the International Rescue Committee reported that hundreds of women were raped and sexually assaulted around the Kalma refugee camp during the previous several weeks,[64] and that the Janjaweed were reportedly using rape to cause women to be humiliated and ostracised.[65] On 25 August, the head of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of African Affairs, Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer, warned that the region faced a security crisis unless the proposed UN peacekeeping force was allowed to deploy.[66]

On 26 August, two days before the UNSC meeting and on the day Frazer was due to arrive in Khartoum, Paul Salopek, a U.S. National Geographic Magazine journalist, appeared in court in Darfur facing charges of espionage; he had crossed into the country illegally from Chad, circumventing the Sudanese government's official restrictions on foreign journalists. He was later released after direct negotiation with President al-Bashir.[67] This came a month after Tomo Križnar, a Slovenian presidential envoy, was sentenced to two years in prison for spying.[68]

New proposed UN peacekeeping force

On 31 August 2006, the UNSC approved a resolution to send a new peacekeeping force of 17,300 to the region.[69] Sudan expressed strong opposition to the resolution. [70] On 1 September, African Union officials reported that Sudan had launched a major offensive in Darfur, killing more than 20 people and displacing over 1,000.[71] On 5 September, Sudan asked the AU force in Darfur to leave the region by the end of the month, adding that "they have no right to transfer this assignment to the United Nations or any other party. This right rests with the government of Sudan."[72] On 4 September, in a move not viewed as surprising, Chad's president Idriss Déby voiced support for the new UN peacekeeping force.[73] The AU, whose peacekeeping force mandate expired on 30 September 2006, confirmed that its troops would leave the region.[74] The next day, however, a senior US State Department official told reporters that the AU force might remain past the deadline.[75]

Implementation (September 2006)

On 8 September, António Guterres, head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said Darfur faced a "humanitarian catastrophe".[76] On 12 September, Sudan's European Union envoy Pekka Haavisto claimed that the Sudanese army was "bombing civilians in Darfur".[77] A World Food Programme official reported that food aid had been cut off from at least 355,000 people in the region.[78] Kofi Annan told the UNSC that "the tragedy in Darfur has reached a critical moment. It merits this council's closest attention and urgent action."[79]

On 14 September, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement, Minni Minnawi, stated that he did not object to the UN peacekeeping force, in opposition to the Sudanese government's view that such a deployment would be an act of Western invasion. Minnawi claimed that the AU force "can do nothing because the AU mandate is very limited".[80] Khartoum remained sternly against the UN's involvement, with Sudanese president Al-Bashir depicting it as a colonial plan and stating that "we do not want Sudan to turn into another Iraq."[81]

Deterioration (October–November 2006)

On 2 October, with the UN force plan suspended indefinitely because of Sudanese opposition, the AU announced that it would extend its presence in the region until 31 December 2006.[82][83] Two hundred UN troops were sent to reinforce the AU force.[84] On 6 October, the UNSC voted to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sudan until 30 April 2007.[85] On 9 October, the Food and Agriculture Organization listed Darfur as the most pressing food emergency out of the forty countries listed on its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.[86] On 10 October, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, claimed that the Sudanese government had prior knowledge of attacks by Janjaweed militias in Buram, South Darfur the month before, an attack which saw hundreds of civilians killed.[87]


On 12 October, Nigerian Foreign Minister Joy Ogwu arrived in Darfur for a two-day visit. She urged the Sudanese government to accept a UN formula. Speaking in Ethiopia, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo spoke against "stand[ing] by and see[ing] genocide being developed in Darfur."[88] On 13 October, US President George W. Bush imposed further sanctions against those deemed complicit in the Darfur atrocities under the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006. The measures were said to strengthen existing sanctions by prohibiting US citizens from engaging in oil-related transactions with Sudan (although US companies had been prohibited from doing any business with Sudan since 1997), freezing the assets of complicit parties and denying them entry to the US.[89]

The AU mission's lack of funding and equipment meant that aid workers' work in Darfur was severely limited by fighting. Some warned that the humanitarian situation could deteriorate to levels seen in 2003 and 2004, when UN officials called Darfur the world's worst humanitarian crisis.[82]

On 22 October, the Sudanese government told UN envoy Jan Pronk to leave the country within three days. Pronk, the senior UN official in the country, had been heavily criticized by the army after he posted a description of several recent military defeats in Darfur to his personal blog.[90] On 1 November, the US announced that it would formulate an international plan which it hoped the Sudanese government would find more palatable.[91] On 9 November, senior Sudanese presidential advisor Nafie Ali Nafie told reporters that his government was prepared to start unconditional talks with the National Redemption Front (NRF) rebel alliance, but noted he saw little use for a new peace agreement. The NRF, which had rejected the May Agreement and sought a new peace agreement, did not issue a comment.[92]

In late 2006, Darfur Arabs started their own rebel group, the Popular Forces Troops, and announced on 6 December that they had repulsed an assault by the Sudanese army at Kas-Zallingi the previous day. In a statement, they called the Janjaweed mercenaries who did not represent Darfur's Arabs. They were the latest of numerous Darfur Arab groups to have announced their opposition to the government's war since 2003, some of which had signed political accords with rebel movements.

The same period saw an example of a tribe-based split within the Arab forces, when relations between the farming Terjem and nomadic, camel-herding Mahria tribes became tense. Terjem leaders accused the Mahria of kidnapping a Terjem boy, and Mahria leaders said the Terjem had been stealing their animals. Ali Mahamoud Mohammed, the wali, or governor, of South Darfur, said the fighting began in December when the Mahria drove their camels south in a seasonal migration, trampling through Terjem territory near the Bulbul River. Fighting would resume in July 2007.[93]

Proposed compromise UN force and Sudanese offensive

On 17 November, reports of a potential deal to place a "compromise peacekeeping force" in Darfur were announced,[94] but would later appear to have been rejected by Sudan.[95] The UN, nonetheless, claimed on 18 November that Sudan had agreed to the deployment of UN peacekeepers.[96] Sudan's Foreign Minister Lam Akol stated that "there should be no talk about a mixed force" and that the UN's role should be restricted to technical support. Also on 18 November, the AU reported that Sudanese military and Sudanese-backed militias had launched a ground and air operation in the region which resulted in about 70 civilian deaths. The AU stated that this "was a flagrant violation of security agreements".[97]

On 25 November, a spokesperson for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accused the Sudanese government of having committed "a deliberate and unprovoked attack" against civilians in the town of Sirba on 11 November, which claimed the lives of at least 30 people. The Commissioner's statement maintained that "contrary to the government’s claim, it appears that the Sudanese Armed Forces launched a deliberate and unprovoked attack on civilians and their property in Sirba," and that this also involved "extensive and wanton destruction and looting of civilian property".[98]

January – April 2007 cease-fire agreement and its rapid dissolution

According to the Save Darfur Coalition, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and President al-Bashir have agreed to a cease-fire whereby the Sudanese "government and rebel groups will cease hostilities for a period of 60 days while they work towards a lasting peace."[99] In addition, the Save Darfur press release stated that the agreement "included a number of concessions to improve humanitarian aid and media access to Darfur." Despite the formality of a ceasefire there have been further media reports of killings and other violence.[100][101] On Sunday 15 April 2007, African Union peacekeepers were targeted and killed.[102] The New York Times reported that "a confidential United Nations report says the government of Sudan is flying arms and heavy military equipment into Darfur in violation of Security Council resolutions and painting Sudanese military planes white to disguise them as United Nations or African Union aircraft."[103]

The violence has spread over the border to Chad. On 31 March 2007 Janjaweed militiamen killed up to 400 people in the volatile eastern border region of Chad near Sudan. The attack took place in the border villages of Tiero and Marena. The villages were encircled and then fired upon. Fleeing villagers were later subsequently chased. The women were robbed and the men shot according to the UNHCR. There were many who, despite surviving the initial attack, ended up dying due to exhaustion and dehydration, often while fleeing.[104]

On 14 April 2007, more attacks within Chad were reported by the UNHCR to have occurred again in the border villages of Tiero and Marena.[105] On 18 April President Bush gave a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum criticizing the Sudanese government and threatened the use of sanctions if the situation does not improve. Sanctions would involve restriction of trade and dollar transactions with the Sudanese government and 29 Sudanese businesses.[106]

International Criminal Court charges

Sudan's humanitarian affairs minister, Ahmed Haroun, and a Janjaweed militia leader, known as Ali Kushayb, have been charged by the International Criminal Court with 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ahmed Haroun said he "did not feel guilty," his conscience was clear, and that he was ready to defend himself.[107]

May 2007

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Chad president Idriss Deby signed a peace agreement on 3 May 2007 aimed at reducing tension between their countries.[108][109] The accord was brokered by Saudi Arabia. It sought to guarantee that each country would not be used to harbor, train or fund armed movements opposed to the government of the other. The Reuters News Service reported that "Deby's fears that Nouri's UFDD may have been receiving Saudi as well as Sudanese support could have pushed him to sign the Saudi-mediated pact with Bashir on Thursday". Colin Thomas-Jensen, an expert on Chad and Darfur who works International Crisis Group think-tank has grave doubts as to whether "this new deal will lead to any genuine thaw in relations or improvement in the security situation". Additionally The Chadian rebel Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) which has fought a hit-and-run war against Chad President Deby's forces in east Chad since 2006 stated that the Saudi-backed peace deal would not stop its military campaign. Thus the agreement may end up hurting the Sudanese rebels the most, leaving the Sudanese government with a freer hand.[110] Also in May, locations related to the conflict were added in Google Earth.[111]

June 2007

Oxfam announced on 17 June that it is permanently pulling out of Gereida, the largest camp in Darfur, where more than 130,000 have sought refuge. The agency cited inaction by local authorities from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), which controls the region, in addressing security concerns and violence against aid workers. An employee of the NGO Action by Churches Together was murdered in June in West Darfur. There have been ongoing hijackings of vehicles belonging to the UN and other international organizations—something that is also making them think twice about staying in the region.[112]

July 2007

BBC News reported that a huge underground lake has been found in the Darfur region. It is suggested that this find could help end the war as it could eliminate the existing competition for precious water resources.[113] France and Britain announced they would push for a UN resolution to dispatch African Union and United Nations peacekeepers to Darfur and would push for an immediate cease-fire in Darfur and are prepared to provide "substantial" economic aid "as soon as a cease-fire makes it possible."[114]

A 14 July 2007 article notes that in the past two months up to 75,000 Arabs from Chad and Niger crossed the border into Darfur. Most have been relocated by Sudanese government to former villages of displaced non-Arab people.[115]

The hybrid UN/AU force was finally approved on 31 July 2007 with the unanimously approved United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769. UNAMID will take over from AMIS by 31 December 2007 at the latest, and has an initial mandate up to 31 July 2008.[116]

On 31 July, the ongoing conflict between the Terjem and the Mahria tribes (former partners in the Janjaweed) heated up, with Mahria gunmen surrounding mourners at the funeral of an important Terjem sheik and killing 60 with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and belt-fed machine guns.[93]

August 2007

From 3 August 2007 until 5 August 2007, a conference was held in Arusha, Tanzania, to unite the different existing rebel groups to make the subsequent peace negotiations with the government of Sudan more streamlined. Most senior rebel leaders attended, with the notable exception of Abdul Wahid al Nur, who – while not in command of large forces, but a rather small splinter group of the SLA/M he initially founded in 2003[117] — is considered to be the representatives of a large part of the displaced Fur people, and there have been concerns that his absence would be damaging to the peace talks.[118] International officials have stated that the difficulty lies in the fact that there is "no John Garang in Darfur", referring to the leader of the negotiating team of South Sudan, who was universally accepted by all the various South Sudanese splinter groups.[119]

The leaders who arrived on Friday were Gamali Galaleiddine,[120] Khalil Abdalla Adam, Salah Abu Surra, Khamis Abdallah Abakar, Ahmed Abdelshafi, Abdalla Yahya, Khalil Ibrahim (of the Justice and Equality Movement) and Ahmed Ibrahim Ali Diraige. The schedule for Saturday consists of closed-door meetings between the AU-UN and rebel leaders, as well as between rebel leaders alone.[121] In addition to those eight, eight more arrived there late on 4 August (including Jar el-Neby, Salah Adam Isaac and Suleiman Marajan[122]), whereas the SLM Unity faction also boycotted the talks as the Sudanese government had threatened to arrest Suleiman Jamous if he left the hospital.[123] The rebel leaders aimed to unify their positions and demands, which included compensation for the victims and autonomy for Darfur.[120] They eventually reached agreement on joined demands, including power and wealth sharing, security, land and humanitarian issues.[124]

In the several months up through August, Arab tribes that had worked together in the Janjaweed militia began falling out among themselves, and even further splintered into factions. Terjem fought Mahria as thousands of gunmen from each side traveled hundreds of miles to fight in the strategic Bulbul river valley. Farther south, Habanniya and Salamat tribes clashed. The fighting did not result in as much killing as in 2003 and 2004, the height of the violence. United Nations officials said the groups might be trying to seize land before U.N. and African Union peacekeepers arrived.[93]

September 2007

On 6 September 2007, the next round of peace talks was set to begin on 27 October 2007.[125] On 18 September 2007, JEM stated that if the peace talks with Khartoum should fail, they would step up their demands from self-determination to independence for the Darfur region.[126]

On 30 September 2007, the rebels overran an AMIS base, killing at least 12 peacekeepers in "the heaviest loss of life and biggest attack on the African Mission" during a raid at the end of Ramadan season.[127]

October 2007


Peace talks started on 27 October 2007 in Sirte, Libya. The following groups attended the talks:[128]

  • Justice and Equality Movement splinters:
  • Revolutionary Democratic Forces Front, led by Salah Abu Surrah
  • United Revolutionary Force Front, led by Alhadi Agabeldour
  • Sudan Liberation Movement–G19, led by Khamees Abdullah
  • Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance, led by Ahmed Ibrahim Diraige

The following groups didn't attend:

  • Justice and Equality Movement, led by Khalil Ibrahim; they object to the presence of rebel groups they say had no constituency and no place at the table.
  • Sudan Liberation Movement (Abdel Wahed), led by Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur; the group has few forces, but its leader is highly respected; refused to attend until a force was deployed to stem the Darfur violence.
  • Sudan Liberation Movement–Unity, originally led by Abdallah Yehya, includes many other prominent figures (Sherif Harir, Abu Bakr Kadu, Ahmed Kubur); the group with the largest number of rebel fighters; object for the same reason as JEM.
  • Ahmed Abdel Shafi, a notable rebel enjoying strong support from the Fur tribe.

Faced with a boycott from the most important rebel factions, the talks were rebranded as an "advanced consultation phase", with actual talks likely to start in November or December.[129]

November 2007

On 15 November, nine rebel groups – six SLM factions, the Democratic Popular Front, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front and the Justice and Equality Movement–Field Revolutionary Command – signed a Charter of Unification and agreed to operate under the name of SLM/A henceforth.[130] On 30 November it was announced that Darfur's rebel movements had united into two large groups and were now ready to negotiate in an orderly structure with the government.[131]

February 2008

A fresh Sudanese offensive by government soldiers and Arab militiamen against Darfur rebels trapped thousands of refugees along the Chadian border, the rebels and humanitarian workers said 20 February 2008.[132] As of 21 February, the total dead in Darfur stood at 450,000 with an estimated 3,245,000 people displaced.

May 2008

On 10 May 2008 Sudanese government soldiers and Darfur rebels clashed in the city of Omdurman, opposite the capital of Khartoum, over the control of a military headquarters.[133] They also raided a police base from which they stole police vehicles. A Sudanese police spokesperson said that the leader of the assailants, Mohamed Saleh Garbo, and his intelligence chief, Mohamed Nur Al-Deen, were killed in the clash.

Witnesses said that heavy gunfire could be heard in the west of Sudan's capital. Sudanese troops backed by tanks, artillery, and helicopter gunships were immediately deployed to Omdurman, and fighting raged for several hours. After seizing the strategic military airbase at Wadi-Sayedna, the Sudanese soldiers eventually defeated the rebels. A JEM force headed to the Al-Ingaz bridge to cross the White Nile into Khartoum, but was repulsed forces. By late afternoon, Sudanese TV claimed that the rebels had been "completely repulsed", while showing live images of burnt vehicles and corpses on the streets.[134]

The government imposed a curfew in Khartoum from 5 pm to 6 am, and aid agencies told their workers living in the capital to stay indoors.

Some 93 soldiers and 13 policemen were killed along with 30 civilians in the attack on Khartoum and Omdurman. Sudanese forces confirmed that they found the bodies of 90 rebels and had spotted dozens more strewn outside the city limits. While Sudanese authorities claimed that up to 400 rebels could have been killed, the rebels stated that they lost 45 fighters dead or wounded. Sudanese authorities also claimed to have destroyed 40 rebel vehicles and captured 17.

August 2009

General Martin Agwai, head of the joint African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur, said the war was over in the region, although low-level disputes remain. There is still "Banditry, localised issues, people trying to resolve issues over water and land at a local level. But real war as such, I think we are over that," he said.[135]

Doha peace forum (December 2010 to September 2012)

In December 2010, representatives of the Liberation and Justice Movement, an umbrella organisation of ten rebel groups formed in February 2010,[136] started a fresh round of talks with the Sudanese Government in Doha, Qatar. A new rebel group, the Sudanese Alliance Resistance Forces in Darfur, was also formed, and the Justice and Equality Movement planned further talks.[137] The talks ended on 19 December without a new peace agreement but basic principles were agreed upon; these included a regional authority and a referendum on autonomy for Darfur. The possibility of a Darfuri Vice-President was also discussed.[138][139]

In January 2011, the leader of the Liberation and Justice Movement, Dr. Tijani Sese, stated that the movement had accepted the core proposals of the Darfur peace document proposed by the joint-mediators in Doha. The proposals included a $300,000,000 compensation package for victims of atrocities in Darfur and special courts to conduct trials of persons accused of human rights violations. Proposals for a new Darfur Regional Authority were also included, this authority would have an executive council of 18 ministers and would remain in place for five years. The current three Darfur states and state governments would also continue to exist during this period.[140][141] In February, the Sudanese Government rejected the idea of a single region headed by a vice-president from the region.[142]

On 29 January, the leaders of the Liberation and Justice Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement issued a joint statement affirming their commitment to the Doha negotiations and intention to attend the Doha forum on 5 February. The Sudanese government postponed deciding whether to attend the forum on that date due to beliefs that an internal peace process without the involvement of rebel groups might be possible.[143] Later in February, the Sudanese Government agreed to return to the Doha peace forum with a view to complete a new peace agreement by the end of that month.[144] On 25 February, both the Liberation and Justice Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement announced that they had rejected the peace document proposed by the mediators in Doha. The main sticking points were the issues of a Darfuri vice-president and compensation for victims. The Sudanese government did not comment on the peace document.[145]

On 9 March, it was announced that two more states would be established in Darfur: Central Darfur around Zalingei and Eastern Darfur around Ed Daein. The rebel groups protested and stated that this was a bid to further divide Darfur's influence.[146]

Advising both the LJM and JEM during the Doha peace negotiations was the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG). Led by Dr. Paul Williams and Matthew T. Simpson, PILPG's team provided on the ground legal support with regard to the substantive issues in the peace process.

In June, a new Darfur Peace Agreement (2011) was proposed by the Joint Mediators at the Doha Peace Forum. This agreement was to supersede the Abuja Agreement of 2005 and when signed, would halt preparations for a Darfur status referendum.[147] The proposed document included provisions for a Darfuri Vice-President and an administrative structure that includes both three states and a strategic regional authority, the Darfur Regional Authority, to oversee Darfur as a whole.[148] The agreement was signed by the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement on 14 July 2011.[149]

As of September 2012, little progress had happened since, and the situation was slowly worsening and violence was on the rise[150] The population of refugees in IDP camps was also increasing.[151]

2013

Following a donors conference in Doha that pledged US$3.6 billion to help rebuild Darfur. The conference was criticised in the region that the Sudan Liberation Army (Minni Minnawi) rebels had taken. According to the group's Hussein Minnawi, Ashma village and another town and were close to the South Darfur capital of Nyala.[152]

On 27 April, following weeks of fighting, a coalition that included the SLA and JEM, said that they had taken Um Rawaba in North Kordofan, outside Darfur, and that they were headed for Khartoum to topple the president. The head of an SLA faction, Abdel Wahid Mohammed al-Nur, called it "a significant shift in the war".[153] An estimated 300,000 were displaced by violence from January through May.[154]

In North Darfur, the Rezeigat tribe and the Beni Hussein group signed a peace deal during July after an eruption of violence between the two groups killed hundreds. Later in July, the Misseriya and Salamat Arab tribes announced a ceasefire after battles killed over 200 people. The UN security counsel also announced it would review its UNAMID mission.[154]

During the first week of August, the Maalia claimed the Rezeigat had killed five members of their tribe in the southeastern region of Adila. They responded by seizing 400 Rizeigat cattle on 6 August. Community leaders intervened to prevent escalation of the conflict. When the Maalia failed to return the cattle, heavy violence broke out on 10 August.[155] The Rezeigat attacked, and reportedly destroyed, a Maaliya compound.[154] In the battle, 77 Maaliya and 36 Rezeigat were killed, and another 200 people were injured.[155] Both sides said Land Cruiser vehicles were used in the battle. The Maaliya accused the Rezeigat of attacking and burning villages while employing "heavy weaponry". On 11 August, the fighting spread to several other areas in southeastern Darfur. The violence reportedly arose over a land dispute.[154]

Mortality figures


Sudanese authorities claim a death toll of roughly 10,000 civilians.[156]

In September 2004, the World Health Organization estimated that there had been 50,000 deaths in Darfur since the beginning of the conflict, an 18-month period, mostly due to starvation. An updated estimate the following month put the number of deaths for the 6-month period from March to October 2004 due to starvation and disease at 70,000; These figures were criticized, because they only considered short periods and did not include deaths from violence.[157] A more recent British Parliamentary Report has estimated that over 300,000 people have died,[158] and others have estimated even more.

In March 2005, the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland estimated that 10,000 were dying each month excluding deaths due to ethnic violence.[159] An estimated 2.7 million people had at that time been displaced from their homes, mostly seeking refuge in camps in Darfur's major towns.[160] Two hundred thousand had fled to neighboring Chad. Reports of violent deaths compiled by the UN indicate between 6,000 and 7,000 fatalities from 2004 to 2007.[161]

In May 2005, the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) of the School of Public Health of the Université catholique de Louvain in Brussels, Belgium published an analysis of mortality in Darfur. Their estimate stated that from September 2003 to January 2005, between 98,000 and 181,000 persons had died in Darfur, including 63,000 to 146,000 excess deaths.[162]

On 28 April 2006, Dr. Eric Reeves argued that "extant data, in aggregate, strongly suggest that total excess mortality in Darfur, over the course of more than three years of deadly conflict, now significantly exceeds 450,000," but this has not been independently verified.[163]

The UN disclosed on 22 April 2008 that it might have underestimated the Darfur death toll by nearly 50%.[164]

In July 2009, the Christian Science Monitor published an op-ed stating that many of the published mortality rates have been misleading because they include a large number of people who have died of disease and malnutrition, as well as those who have died from direct violence. Therefore, when activist groups make statements indicating that "four hundred thousand people have been killed," they are misleading the public.[165]

In January 2010, The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters published an article in a special issue of The Lancet. The article, entitled Patterns of mortality rates in Darfur Conflict,[11] estimated, with 95% confidence, that the excess number of deaths is between 178,258 and 461,520 (the mean being 298,271), with 80% of these due to diseases.[166] 51 International peacekeepers have been killed in Darfur.

International response

International attention to the Darfur conflict largely began with reports by the advocacy organizations Amnesty International in July 2003 and the International Crisis Group in December 2003. However, widespread media coverage did not start until the outgoing United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, called Darfur the "world's greatest humanitarian crisis" in March 2004.[167] Organizations such as STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, later under the umbrella of Genocide Intervention Network, and the Save Darfur Coalition emerged and became particularly active in the areas of engaging the United States Congress and President on the issue and pushing for divestment nationwide, initially launched by Adam Sterling under the auspice of the Sudan Divestment Task Force. Particularly strong advocates have additionally included: New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Sudan scholar Eric Reeves, Enough Project founder John Prendergast, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Samantha Power, photographers Ryan Spencer Reed, former Marine Brian Steidle, actress Mia Farrow and her son Ronan Farrow, Olympian Joey Cheek, actress Angelina Jolie, actors George Clooney, and Don Cheadle, actor Jonah Hill, actress Salma Hayek, Save Darfur Coalition's David Rubenstein, Slovenian humanitarian Tomo Kriznar, and all of those involved with the Genocide Intervention Network. A movement advocating for humanitarian intervention has emerged in several countries.

International Criminal Court

In March 2005, the Security Council formally referred the situation in Darfur to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, taking into account the report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1564 of 2004, but without mentioning any specific crimes.[168] Two permanent members of the Security Council, the United States and China, abstained from the vote on the referral resolution.[169]

In April 2007, the Judges of the ICC issued arrest warrants against the former Minister of State for the Interior, Ahmed Haroun, and a Janjaweed leader, Ali Kushayb, for crimes against humanity and war crimes.[170] The Sudan Government said that the ICC had no jurisdiction to try Sudanese citizens and that it would not hand the two men over to authorities in the Hague.[171]

On 14 July 2008, the Prosecutor filed ten charges of war crimes against Sudan's incumbent President Omar al-Bashir, three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. The Prosecutor has claimed that Mr. al-Bashir "masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part" three tribal groups in Darfur because of their ethnicity. Leaders from three Darfur tribes are suing ICC prosecutor Luis-Moreno Ocampo for libel, defamation, and igniting hatred and tribalism.[172]

After an arrest warrant was issued for the Sudanese president in March 2009, the Prosecutor appealed to have the genocide charges added. However, the Pre-Trial Chamber found that there was no reasonable ground to support the contention that he had a specific intent to commit genocide (dolus specialis), which is an intention to destroy, in whole or in part, a protected group. The definition adopted by the Pre-Trial Chamber is the definition of the Genocide Convention, the Rome Statute, and some ICTY cases. On 3 February 2010 the Appeals Chamber of the ICC found that the Pre-Trial Chamber had applied "an erroneous standard of proof when evaluating the evidence submitted by the Prosecutor" and that the Prosecutor's application for a warrant of arrest on the genocide charges should be sent back to the Pre-Trial Chamber to review based on the correct legal standard.[173] In July 2010, Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir was finally charged by Hague for orchestrating Darfur genocide, three counts of genocide in Darfur by the International Criminal Court. [174]

Mr. al-Bashir is now the first incumbent head of state charged with crimes in the Rome Statute.[175] Bashir has rejected the charges and said, "Whoever has visited Darfur, met officials and discovered their ethnicities and tribes ... will know that all of these things are lies."[176]

It is expected that al-Bashir will not face trial in The Hague until he is apprehended in a nation which accepts the ICC's jurisdiction, as Sudan is not a state party to the Rome Statute which it signed but didn't ratify.[177] Payam Akhavan, a professor of international law at McGill University in Montreal and a former war crimes prosecutor, says although he may not go to trial, "He will effectively be in prison within the Sudan itself...Al-Bashir now is not going to be able to leave the Sudan without facing arrest."[178] The Prosecutor has publicly warned that authorities could arrest the President if he enters international airspace. The Sudanese government has announced the Presidential plane will be accompanied by jet fighters.[179] However, the Arab League has announced its solidarity with al-Bashir. Since the warrant, he has visited Qatar and Egypt. Both countries have refused to arrest him. The African Union also condemned the arrest warrant.

Some analysts think that the ICC indictment is counterproductive and harms the peace process. Only days after the ICC indictment, al-Bashir expelled 13 international aid organizations from Darfur and disbanded three domestic aid organizations.[180] In the aftermath of the expulsions, conditions in the displaced camps deteriorated,[181] and women were particularly affected.[182] Previous ICC indictments, such as the arrest warrants of the LRA leadership in the ongoing war at northern Uganda, were also accused of harming peace processes by criminalizing one side of a war. Some believe that the arrest warrant against al-Bashir will hinder the efforts to establish peace in Darfur, and will undermine any effort to boost stability in Sudan.[183]

Russian and Chinese undermining of UN sanctions



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