Humanitarian Disaster in Darfur
- Sudan Main Page
- A Brief Respite From Civil War
- Humanitarian Disaster in Darfur
- Atrocities Continue, Even as the International Community Pushes for Peace
- Bashir Wins Election in a Landslide
- Historic Vote in Southern Sudan
- North and South on the Brink of War
- Oil Pipeline Deal Achieved
- ICC Halts Darfur Investigation; President Bashir Re-Elected
Humanitarian Disaster in Darfur
Just as Sudan's civil war seemed to be coming to an end, another war intensified in the northwestern Darfur region. After the government quelled a rebellion in Darfur in Jan. 2004, it allowed pro-government militias called the Janjaweed to carry out massacres against black villagers and rebel groups in the region. These Arab militias, believed to have been armed by the government, have killed between 200,000 and 300,000 civilians and displaced more than 1 million. While the war in the south was fought against black Christians and animists, the Darfur conflict is being fought against black Muslims. Although the international community has reacted with alarm to the humanitarian disaster—unmistakably the world's worst—it has been ineffective in persuading the Sudanese government to rein in the Janjaweed. Despite the EU and the U.S. describing the killing as genocide, and despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Sudan stop the Arab militias, the killing continued throughout 2005.
On Jan. 9, 2005, after three years of negotiations, the peace deal between the southern rebels, led by John Garang of the SPLA, and the Khartoum government to end the two-decades-long civil war was signed, giving roughly half of Sudan’s oil wealth to the south, as well as nearly complete autonomy and the right to secede after six years. But just two weeks after Garang was sworn in as first vice president as part of the power-sharing agreement, he was killed in a helicopter crash during bad weather. Rioting erupted in Khartoum, killing nearly 100. Garang’s deputy, Salva Kiir, was quickly sworn in as the new vice president, and both north and south vowed that the peace agreement would hold.
In 2006, the slaughter in Darfur escalated, and the Khartoum government remained defiantly indifferent to the international communities' calls to stop the violence. The 7,000 African Union (AU) peacekeepers deployed to Darfur proved too small and ill equipped a force to prevent much of it. A fragile peace deal in May 2006 was signed between the Sudanese government and the main Darfur rebel group; two smaller rebel groups, however, refused to sign. The UN reported that there has in fact been a dramatic upsurge in the violence since the agreement. The Sudanese government reneged on essential elements of the accord, including the plan to disarm the militias and allow a UN peacekeeping force into the region to replace the modest AU force. Khartoum eventually agreed to allow the modest AU force to remain in the country until the end of 2006, but rejected a hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force entering the country. In. Jan. 2007, Sudan and Darfur rebel groups agreed to a 60-day cease-fire, which was intended to lead to peace talks sponsored by the African Union. Libya hosted peace talks ni October, but several rebel groups boycotted the proceedings, and the summit ended shortly after the opening ceremony. In July 2007, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to deploy as many as 26,000 peacekeepers from the African Union and the United Nations forces to help end the violence in Darfur. The African Union peacekeeper base in Darfur was attacked in September. Ten peacekeepers were killed. Days later, the town was razed, leaving some 7,000 Darfuris homeless.
In Feb. 2007, the International Criminal Court at the Hague named Ahmad Harun, Sudan's deputy minister for humanitarian affairs, and Ali Kushayb, also known as Ali Abd-al-Rahman, a militia leader, as suspects in the murder, rape, and displacement of thousands of civilians in the Darfur region. In May, the Court issued arrest warrants for Haroun and Ali Kosheib, a Janjaweed leader, charging them with mass murder, rape, and other crimes. The Sudanese government refused to hand over them over to the Court. Kushayb was arrested by Sudanese police in October 2008. He was not, however, handed over to the ICC.
The Bush administration expanded sanctions on Sudan in May, banning 31 Sudanese companies and four individuals from doing business in the U.S.