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Devastation in Darfur Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Kayla, United States Nov 16, 2007
Genocide , Culture , Human Rights , Peace & Conflict   Opinions
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In rural Darfur, the western region of Sudan, about the size of France, there are several gullies at the bottom of a hill. Surrounding them are 14 bodies. They are innocent Africans whose only crime was not being Arab. They had been divided into 2 groups and shot from behind. (Power) This is not unusual, hardly noteworthy. This is what Darfur’s Africans go through daily.

Perhaps these men’s wives and children had been tortured or raped. Or maybe they are in a refugee camp, dying of starvation, malnutrition, disease, and drought. The Darfur region is in the grip of a major world crisis, which must be resolved. We cannot ignore them any longer. Anyone who learns about the history, tragedy, and possible solutions for the region, will realize what a catastrophic problem this is.

There has always been tension in the Darfur region, and recently it exploded. The largest three African tribes in the area are the Masaaleit, Zaghawa, and Fur (Darfur means “land of the Fur”). (Power) The other main ethnic group is the Arabs. There have always been Arabs in Sudan, but in the 1980s, there was an influx from Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and Chad. (Power) The farming Africans became upset with the larger number of nomadic Arabs trampling crops. (Power) Similarly, the Arabs became increasingly annoyed with African forays into grazing lands. (Power) The government ignored complaints by both groups, and the angry Africans and Arabs began to gather weapons. (Power) In 1987, fighting began between the Fur and Arabic herders.

Battles continued for 2 years with a final death toll of 2,500 Fur and 500 Arabs. This doesn’t include the 400 villages burned and 40,000 camels, cattle, and horses slaughtered, leaving little hope for survivors and still rising tempers. (Power) Despite past violence, Darfur’s current situation is even more devastating and shows no signs of abating.

With no government intervention, Darfur remains a volatile area. Fifty-five percent are African and thirty-nine percent of Darfurians are Arabic. Even though the Africans are the majority, all government positions are held by Arabs. (Snyder) The current conflict is very asymmetric. It is a group of Arabs trying to destroy all Africans and the Africans are putting up very little resistance. The Arabs are called Janjaweed, bandits who have stolen livestock and attacked Africans for decades. Their name means “evil horseman” in the language of the Fur. (Power)

Recently, the Janjaweed, under the command of an Arabic sheik, Musa Hillal, have joined with the Sudanese Army and Air Force. They have modernized, receiving orders on satellite phones and riding in jeeps instead of camels. (Power)(Power) There is a single source of African resistance. The Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) was formed in February 2003. (Power) Their mission is to “create a united, democratic Sudan” with “equality, complete restructuring and devolution of power…cultural and political pluralism and moral and material prosperity for all Sudanese.”(Power) Regretfully, the government has only recently begun to treat them as a serious threat and direct military action against them. This “action” usually consists of increased attacks on citizens, of which there are already plenty.

This conflict has taken a huge toll on Africans who have no power to stop it. The Janjaweed and SAAF murder villagers in mass executions, rape women, and abduct children. (Reeves) The survivors have no chance because wells are poisoned with dead bodies. In arid Sudan, this is nearly a death sentence. Couple this with stolen camels and cattle, killed donkeys, and looted villages and prospects for survival are dim. (Reeves) Consequently, at least 1,500,000 people have fled their ravaged villages and moved to 50 refugee camps in Chad and more than 150 in Sudan. (Reeves)

Getting into a refugee camp, especially those in Sudan, hardly improves their chances. Sudanese refugee camps are eerily similar to Nazi concentration camps. Disease, starvation, and malnutrition run rampant with no hope of humanitarian aid. Camps are under Janjaweed and government control. (Reeves) “The Sudanese government is pursuing a campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Arabs” (Power)

The current genocide in Darfur has been linked many times to the 1994 murders in Rwanda. (Power) In Rwanda, the 2 major ethnic/political groups are Hutus and Tutsis. The minority of Tutsis have been in power for centuries. Recently, there has been severe discrimination against Tutsis by the now-Hutu-controlled government.

On April 6th, 1994, the Hutu president, Juvena Hapyarmana was killed. (Raper) Almost immediately, “the Rwandan Armed Forces and Hutu militias… went from house to house killing moderate Hutu politicians and Tutsis.” (Raper) After 100 days, it was over. The final cost was 700,000 Tutsis and 50,000 moderate Hutus killed. There are millions more in hiding and refugee camps. (Staub) The first public comparison was by Mukesh Kapila, the UN humanitarian coordinator in March 2004. Since then, the similarities have been referred to many times. Darfur has even been called “Rwanda repeating itself.” (Reeves)

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Hello! I'm kayla. I love writing and reading, particularly writing research articles and poetry. I am very proud to have a published article here, please read it!!

fresh boi swag | Nov 13th, 2010
you sound like a very cool person to be with

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