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Crisis in Darfur, Sudan

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Crisis in Darfur, Sudan

The conflict in the far western region of Sudan, in Darfur is being labelled the world’s largest humanitarian crisis taking place. The clash in Darfur is due to racial intolerance. The conflict involves the Government of Sudan (GOS) and the Janjaweed forces who are Arab militia that are tarnished with claims of rape and mass killings and rumoured to be backed by the government (Q & A Darfur conflict, May 2006). Both sets of groups are being opposed by the non-Arab rebels in the Darfur region consisting of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) (Q & A Darfur conflict, May 2006). The conflict has left more than three million people in need of food aid and shelter, over two hundred thousand dead and over two million refugees in Chad (Q & A Darfur conflict, May 2006).

The conflict began in early 2003 when the rebels from both sets of the SLA and the JEM launched an attack on GOS forces after a peace treaty agreement between with the Government of Sudan and the Christian rebels in the south of the country (Q & A Darfur conflict, May 2006). The conflict was sparked due to rebels discontented at the level of attention that the discrimination of the non-Arabs in Darfur was getting as compared to the Christians in the south of Sudan. The government then responded to the attacks with their militia along with air strikes in the Darfur region while the Janjaweed had started forcefully displacing non-Arabs, raping females and looting towns in the Darfur region (Q & A Darfur conflict, May 2006). The conflict then began to attract media attention when atrocities by the Janjaweed took place more regularly with killings and rapes well into the thousands forcing thousands of Sudanese across the border into the already war torn country of Chad. After immense international pressure with the threat of sanctions with the likes of former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell stating “We concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility and genocide may still be occurring,” and also pressure from human rights groups, the conflict in Darfur was starting to attract attention from the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) (Powell declares Genocide, September 2004).

The SLA, JEM and non-Arab villagers in the Darfur region have consistently claimed that the GOS has always favoured the Arabs as opposed to the non-Arabs. The Darfur rebels argue that the GOS is performing ethnic cleansing and trying to rid of the blacks from Darfur region, as a black refugee in Chad claims that words that were yelled at him by GOS militia when he was being attacked were “Slaves, run! Leave the country. You don’t belong; why are you not leaving this area for the Arab cattle to graze?”(Documenting Atrocities in Darfur, 2004). The villages that have been attacked and destroyed are all non-Arab villages which were being resided by blacks in the area (Refer to Map 2). Bahar El Din, a chief of the SLA believes that the Darfur situation arises from an ethnic issue when he says “Now the government is using Arabs to get rid of black people, the real Africans. So they are not fighting in one place, they are fighting where there is black Africans. From Tine up to Furbaranga (regions in Darfur), there are no black people. They have all fled to Chad (in fear.)” (Darfur in Quotes, November 2004). The Darfur rebels firmly believe that the Janjaweed is supported and backed by the GOS and that the government is using this method to cleanse the Darfur region of the blacks without wanting to tarnish their own name after much pressure and being under the microscope by the UN and AU. There have been many instances of news corporations intercepting radio messages of GOS pilots speaking with Janjaweed militia on the ground, in particular when SkyNews intercepted a GOS Air Force pilot discussing with Janjaweed troops on the ground about the bombing of a village (Bridgland, August 2004). To backup claims of the rebels regarding the government’s support for the Janjaweed, Janjaweed themselves have claimed to be with the government. Musa Hilal, a leader of the Janjaweed militia said, “Africans have killed Arabs for years over grievances about land and water. Things like that give birth to bitterness. When the government put forward a programme of arming all the people, I will not deny I called our sons and told them to become armed, and our sons acquiesced,” (Bridgland, August 2004). Human Rights Watch had also discovered documents which concur with the views of the rebels in Darfur when they mentioned in a press report, “A particularly damning February directive orders all security units in the area to tolerate the activities of known Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal in North Darfur. The document highlights the importance of non-interference

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