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The Crisis in Darfur, Sudan

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Essay title: The Crisis in Darfur, Sudan

The Crisis in Darfur, Sudan

Genocide, the attempt to destroy a people because of their presumed race or ethnicity, remains alive and well. The definition of genocide as given in the Webster’s Dictionary is “The deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.” This definition depicts the situation in 1994 of Rwanda, a small and poor central African country.

What makes this crisis particularly shocking is the structural character of the violence: villages have been torched, and civilians have been deliberately targeted by bombing, summary executions, massacres and systematic rape as part of a strategy of fear instigated by the Sudanese military and the so-called Janjaweed, armed and supported by the government of Sudan. The crisis in Darfur has therefore demanded both a humanitarian and a political response. The political response has consisted of increased pressure on the Sudanese government to disarm the Janjaweed, ensure security and allow aid agencies into Darfur to provide humanitarian aid. Humanitarian needs include food, shelter, water, health, sanitation and nutrition. But more than that, the structural violence against civilians means that there is an urgent need for protection, as systematic abuse, rape and displacement continue unabated.

As international pressure on the Sudanese government led to improved access conditions during 2004, the humanitarian presence in Darfur increased significantly. By December 2004, approximately 55 international humanitarian organizations deploying an estimated 8,400 aid workers, nearly 900 of them internationals, were active in Darfur. The front lines between Sudanese government and rebel forces, humanitarian presence has brought stability and tranquility as long as it has coincided with the disengagement of the warring parties. In Jebel Marra, for instance, the deployment of aid agencies was connected to guarantees from rebel forces to stay away from IDP locations and access roads, to avoid potential counter-attacks from government troops (ironically, but unintentionally, also serving the interests of government forces).

To understand what is happening here let’s go back to the history of Hutu and Tutsi in Rawanda and how the dominant group wants to control the minority groups. In the early 1900’s, the Tutsi were placed in positions of power by Belgium, because they looked “whiter”. Governed by Belgium’s racist way of thought, ethnic identity cards were introduced. The Catholic Church supported the Tutsi and the new social order and educated the Tutsi and imposed their religion on them. Though the population of Rwanda was ninety percent Hutu, they were denied land ownership, education, and positions of power. In the 1950’s, the end of the colonial period, the Hutu overthrew the Tutsi government. The Hutu maintained the practices of ethnic division, and the Tutsi were forcibly removed from positions of power. Many Tutsi fled from Rwanda and were not allowed to return. Many Tutsi that stayed in Rwanda were killed. Supported by Uganda, the Tutsi formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a rebel army. The rebel army was anxious to regain citizenship and their homes in Rwanda, and began a civil war that lasted four years. The world wide coffee market crashed, and coffee being the main export of Rwanda,

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