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Malnutrition in Darfur Essay

Darfur is located in the Western part of Sudan and covers one fifth of the country being home to six million people. Darfur means house of fur and it is a historical region of Bilad al Sudan which is the Western part of Sudan. The northern part of Darfur is occupied by the Arabs while the main occupants of southern part are the white Arabs and Fur who are also regarded as the people of Darfur. Christianity period in Darfur lasted from around 900 to 1200. In the late 1980’s, ethnic tensions between the people of Darfur and nomadic Arabs and other agriculturalists began erupting into armed conflicts.

These conflicts were very bloody and they continued up to 2003 after which the rebels from among the agriculturalists started attacking installations of the government. A peace treaty was signed in the year 2003 but this was not effective. The government of Sudan is seen to support these killings which become worse day after day. Janjaweed is the group that is terrorizing the people of Sudan and is said to be like a features of the mafia and the KKK in U. S. Janjaweed are racists and want to see the subjugation of the non Arabs in Sudan (Ubiera, 2010).

Malnutrition refers to a condition which occurs when a person’s body is deprived of enough nutrients. It is brought about by an unbalanced diet, difficulties in digestion, problems of absorbing food or other medical conditions. Hunger, protein deficiency and overconsumption are the main causes of malnutrition. Malnourishment makes the body struggle to operate normally as such the ability to learn and physical work becomes difficult to undertake.

In women and especially breastfeeding mothers, the prospect of producing breast milk that is nourished is very low (WFP, 2010). At present there are about 5 million people who are experiencing food insecurity in northern parts of Sudan, Darfur being among them. This is due to the conflicts going on in Darfur, poor 2009/2010 harvests, sky rocketing food prices and reduction in supply of grains. Levels of food insecurity are due to civil insecurities, limited access to cultivable land by the IDPs and poor rainfall, destruction of crops by animals, and pest infestation.

Populations that are experiencing food insecurity are relying on aids from World Food Program (WFP) while others have developed coping strategies like sale of livestock, firewood and even grass so as to buy food in addition to income received from daily wage (USAID, 2010). By January 2010, research collected by UNICEF showed that there was an increase in all the three regions of Darfur with Northern Darfur being the worst hit into Outpatient Treatment Programme and Supplementary Feeding Centers. Global Outcome Malnutrition showed that it stood at over 15% in Darfur.

It is estimated that there were about 3. 6 million beneficiaries of food with 30, 000MT. Consequence of the food insecurity; most of the individuals rely on donations from donors. If this help is not received, most of them end up starving. However, when it finally arrives it is limited in quantity and also quality hence its recipients cannot get all the required nutrients. Due to this there is malnutrition and more so in the camps where water is a problem too. Studies have shown that by January 2010, 80% of the total deaths since the fighting began are due to diseases and not violence.

The findings showed that among the millions of people affected by the on going conflicts, most of them were still at risk of succumbing to malnutrition, waterborne diseases and diarrhea which has been rampant in the camps as the fighting continues. Displaced individuals are the most susceptible to this (AP, 2010). International interventions have been put in place so as to reduce the levels of inhumane actions in Darfur. Thousands of peacekeepers are in the region where there is collaboration of African Union-UN peace keeping and UNAMID. However, the intervention is said to have failed due to a number of factors.

First, the government of Sudan is the main player of genocide. United Nations and as well as the International community has the commitment to respect the sovereignty of the national governments and so with this commitment and their need to maintain peace cannot afford them to enter into war with the government of Sudan. This means that attempts to stop war can only be successful if the government of Sudan is willing to cooperate but if it continues to keep conflicts alive and use racial hatred as a means to attack the marginalized communities, the interventions will be of little impact.

Another reason is the lack of international community to make full commitments to bringing the war to a stop. The people around the world are unwilling to incur the costs of peace keeping unless there are some international strategic interests or economic benefits. The cost to human lives is not acceptable by most individuals for international conflicts which have no direct consequences to their own lives. Another reason is attributed to overall reluctance of countries, agencies or forces to do something which is related to war on terror being undertaken by US or any country.

The last reason is the complexity of the problem itself. The Darfur war has significant social and political aspects. Hence the flaring up of the crisis in Darfur can only end when there is a long lasting balance of power between the two warring groups (Kumar, 2010). Even with the said failure by the humanitarian group to bring sanity into the region, their presence is still felt in Darfur. They nonetheless face many challenges but are daring enough to continue with their stay.

Some of the problems are related to the government which makes it difficult for them to obtain travel visas and work permit. Bandits too attack them making it impossible for them to access the troubled areas but this has not deterred them. They try as much as possible to access the areas so as to help victims of crime and mostly the displaced people but mostly the vulnerable groups which comprise of children, women, the sick and the elderly.

This shows the level of their commitment despite the reality of the failure of their efforts to bring peace in Darfur (USAID, 2010). The Sudan government and conflicts Sudan’s Liberation Army and Justice and Equality movement began attacking the government in the year 2003 by oppressing them for favoring Arabs over black Africans. Initially the conflicts were generally due to neglect by the government and lack of development in the black inhabited regions. Other supporting factors of the conflicts in Darfur are deemed to be complex and interwoven.

Factors like, environmental degradation due to conflict over the access to the resources; famines in the past, neglect by the government hence lack of development characterized by poor health facilities, breakdown of the education sector and poorly developed economy; and constant interference by outsiders like British colonialists, Southern conflicts and expansion of Islamic religion. The Sudanese government responded by deploying troops to back the militias or the Janjaweed. This made the government to be accused of supporting crimes against humanity and hence perpetrating genocide.

Entire communities lost their livelihood as most of their villages were burnt to the ground which forced individuals to flee from their homes. The most vulnerable groups in the underlying conditions are women and children. This is attributed to the violence in the camps for the internally displaced, and attacks on the civilians including sexual violence that is gender based and reduction in the level of water supplies (AMNESTY International, 2008). Humanitarian crisis resulted due to this mass displacement of the citizens.

They included direct attacks to poor living conditions which were deteriorating day in day out. 300,000 people have lost their lives from the year 2003 to 2005 and it is during this period that George W. Bush declared the Darfur crisis as genocide. Despite the world’s outcry, the genocide continued as the number of those displaced and killed continued to increase. In 2006, the Sudanese government signed a peace treaty with one of the rebel movements but it continued to fight the other two groups which did not consent to signing the treaty.

The rebel movements too started experiencing internal divisions orchestrated by political differences which led to fights leading to further complexity of the war and endangering lives of more civilians. Up to date fighting between the governments and rebel movements continues. Opportunistic bandits and militias have also taken advantage of this and it has affected the humanitarian aid and contributed to most the of gender based crimes.

Despite this entire crisis, the Sudan government is seen to be on centre stage as President Bashir and his entire government is the one who created conducive environment for the fights due to their counterinsurgency campaigns through use of violence that target innocent civilians. Furthermore it has rendered peace keeping missions by the international community futile. All this makes the government to be accused of being the main player in the on going Darfur conflicts. The poor living conditions with no food or little food has led to malnutrition cases among those displaced.

Further attacks made against the rescue teams have made it difficult for food to be availed to the needy persons in the camps hence cases of starvation due to limited or no food provision among the people together with lack of water are rampant (SaveDarfur, 2010). Geographic factor Darfur means the land of fur people. It was an independent sultanate from fourteenth century to 1917. It was absorbed into the British Empire after the World War 1. Under the rule of colonialists, development in the region was neglected. Before then, Darfur was provided with nothing apart from cattle and gum export support.

Important facilities like maternity clinics were not available and at time of independence, Darfur had the lowest number of hospital beds (De Waal & Flint, 2005). Deliberate negligence of Darfur especially after falling in the hands of colonialists is the major reason behind the hostility. Another reason is that Darfur is somehow separated from Sudan by mountains and has therefore been regarded by some people as part of Chad. In the last three centuries, neighboring countries have been struggling to rile Darfur (Collins, 2006.

In the pre-colonial era there was more development than there is today due to cooler climates and the geographical condition as it was the pathway for the traders since it was between the desert and the mountains. Most of the important trade items such as feathers of ostrich, ivory and tusks of the time were transported through Darfur but in today’s economy they are no longer necessary hence decline in the economic growth of Darfur. With the imposition of the colonialists, Darfur’s importance ceased and from then their attention from the central government was lost (Prunier 2007).

People of Western Sudan were disappointed by the central government for its neglect on the region. Drought experienced in 1983 and 1984 and its mismanagement by the government added to the fury. This is because the then president ignored warnings by experts on the effects of the drought on the people. Although the international community provided food it was hardly enough and this led to conflicts among the Darfurians as they tried to survive (Collins & Burr, 1995). The autonym also concurs that these disagreements between Khartoum and Southerners are major factors that brought about the conflicts.

Lack of security is also a concern for the government. Darfur is in the east of the Chad and is not part of Nile Valley. Geographically, Darfur is in Chad and in the past the inhabitants were linked to west more than to the Arabs on the east of Nile. This has made Darfur to be seen to be open to influence from the neighboring countries. In the past, Sudan has had issues with Chad which made the government of Sudan to allow the Libyan troops to train there and this led to increased cases of banditry and small scale violence (Collins, 2006).

Conflicts in Darfur have been said to spill over to the western border into Chad and Central Africa Republic (CAR) with several armed forces being involved hence forcing the people to flee their homes across the three countries. Chad and Sudan have been accusing each other of lending a helping hand to the rebel movements in one another’s country. A quarter of Darfur citizens have fled to UN ran camps in Chad while a few of Chad citizens have taken refuge in Darfur. CAR’s government blames Sudan for supporting coalition of rebels which is Union of Democratic Forces for Unity which opposes President Francoise B.

of CAR. Darfur expelled a number of humanitarian agencies after International Criminal Court issued a warrant on arrest of Bashir. As a result, thirteen international agencies and some three local groups were told to cease working in Darfur and in other parts of northern and southern Sudan. Since then little humanitarian action is said to take place (Hicks, 2010). UN Panel of Experts that is given the mandate to monitor the situation on the ground has been denied access to some areas. Other monitoring mechanisms that are independent have been reorganized as joint mechanisms with the government of Sudan.

This has in turn led to increased levels of malnutrition and more so in rural areas where aid is stretched beyond capacity. Camps where they have fled due to the fights are raided by armed groups and collection of basic needs materials like firewood is proving to be dangerous as women are raped and men killed. Malnutrition rates are increasing as levels of hygiene in camps is poor and sporadic fights continue displacing more people. As people migrate from one country to the other, due to the fights, they increase chances of spreading infections.

Cholera which is related to poor conditions spreads fast and other air borne diseases. Furthermore, the immigrants might not be covered by health services of the receiving country be it Sudan or the neighbors as they are not documented as required therefore being more vulnerable to diseases and this could serve as a source of spread of diseases. Public health interventions in Darfur and in the nearby border camps might not have the required health personnel who are useful in controlling or treatment of some minor infections which makes it worse and also facilitates fast spread of infections.

These factors will make easy for diseases or infections to spread fast causing more trouble to the already malnourished people as the conditions are favoring too (Hicks, 2010). Doha Darfur Agreement This is a declaration of goodwill and confidence building signed by the government of Sudan and Darfur justice and Equality Movement (JEM) which is to pave way for full blown negotiations. It aims at resolving the conflicts in Darfur. Qatar is playing the role of a mediator with the help of African union-United Nations through the use of intensive talks.

These talks have been seen to restore sanity if not the required level of complete peace to the troubled region. One of the reasons why it is seen to be a success is because of Qatar’s active role in the last two years in collaboration with African Union- United Nations mediation team which is led by Djibril Bassole. Qatar has been successful in bringing the two parties together and getting them to ink a deal that is deemed to have the potential for paving way to settlement of the disputes. Secondly, the current political climate and pressure on al Bashir to strike a deal as early as possible is also seen to be a reason.

Al Bashir is getting pressure from Western countries in addition to the human rights organization for his bad record on rights of humanity besides ICC threats to arrest him. Upcoming referendums for independence in southern parts have put pressure on Bashir to call for peace (Pandey, 2010). Third reason that is seen to make the peace deal a success under Qatar leadership is the difficulties that are being faced by the JWEM movement to keep its movement intact. With no support from N’Dajema, the group can only opt for a peace deal as this is the only option since it has also lost the support it had before.

The peace deal promises all the parties a chance to share power with the government. The fourth reason is the change of heart of the neighboring government of Chad. They have made amendments with the Khartoum government to end their long term feud. The signing of the peace accord by Chadian government in Doha shows its willingness to end the long term disputes and its support of Darfur. Another reason is the approach by International community which has also seen some changes. There is a positive attitude as the agreement led by Qatar has the full backing of organizations and world powers that have major influence.

Finally disarray in rebel movements in Darfur is another reason. Leader of SLA which sparked off the fights has lost major influence on the ground due to certain splits. Many of the splitters have joined hand to form Liberation Movement for justice which has agreed to talk with the Sudanese government. With the support of most countries and with the dedication of the government of Sudan this can be seen as a step forward for the on going peace talks. Dedication too by JEM which is playing a major role is a good sign that the deal will be a success.

Mass participation by people of Sudan in the concluded elections shows that there is a positive trend (Pandey, 2010). However, these peace deals have been marked by a number of difficulties which include: lack of confidence among the parties to the conflict, disputes among the movements and their unwillingness to unite in the critical process of restoring peace. These challenges are being overcome through the use of workshops which comprises of international leadership and experts drawn from the civil society organizations which are supposed to submit a recommendation on Darfur’s crisis so as to restore peace.

Other challenges facing the peace talks are issues related to pockets of instability and lack of access to unstable and other areas by UNAMID. Some of the measures taken to counter the challenges are deployment of security to the humanitarian persons and the targeted population, and provision of pro active support for the peace keeping process and facilitation of the ongoing normalization of relations between Chad and Sudan and support of recovery process (UN Security Council, 2010). Conclusion The crises in Darfur do not reflect local conflicts but rather government crisis in the whole nation.

The major reason why the conflicts erupted in Darfur is because of negligence by central government to issues related to development. Due to this many of people have been deprived of their human rights and there have been several humanitarian crises which have led to many deaths. Most of the deaths were due to poor health conditions especially in the camps and also due to lack of water. The only way to ensure that the conflicts come to an end or some level of sanity is restored is through the government’s dedication to peace talks with the other rebel groups.

Equal development should be advocated for the whole country. Even with the deployment of troops by AU and extensive talks being held, emphasis should be on factors that led to the conflicts or else the interventions might turn out to be total failure. With the on going peace talks led by Qatar, some hope is raising though there are some difficulties involved. The strategies that are being used to correct the challenges show the extent of commitment and this makes the world and Darfur people to raise their hopes even more.

Some strategic consultations too are on going between UNAMID and United Nations, African union, Arabs, the newly elected officials, displaced persons, women, the youths and representatives of civil organizations and involvement in peace process. Chad and Sudan’s reconciliation is strengthening too and there are no further reported cases of cross border attacks (UN Security Council, 2010). Efforts made by the international community in response to the crisis facing Darfur are being closely monitored by international organizations, governments, and worldwide scholars.

If the international community continues to show its support, Sudan will finally enjoy peace which has been absent for so many years. References AMNESTY International, (2008). Sudan: the crisis in Darfur. Retrieved on June 7, 2010 from http://www. amnesty. ca/themes/sudan_darfur_conflict. php AP, (2010). Review of data from Darfur conflicts shows that 80% of deaths caused by diseases and not violence. Retrieved on June 7, 2010 from http://blog. taragana. com/health/2010/01/23/review-of-data-from-darfur-conflict-shows-80-percent-of-deaths-caused-by-disease-not-violence-186 Burr, J. Milliard and Robert O. Collins (1995)

Requiem for the Sudan: War, Drought, and Disaster Relief on the Nile. Boudler: Westview Press Inc. Collins, Robert O. (2006) The Disaster in Darfur in Historical Perspective, The Journal of Conflict Studies, Winter 2006, pp. 25-43 Flint, J. & De Waal, A. (2005) Darfur: A Short History of A Long War. London: Zed Books Kumar, V. (2010). Why international interventions to stop fighting in Darfur failed and alternative policies. Retrieved on June 7, 2010 from http://www. helium. com/items/954423-international-intervention-stop-fighting-darfur-failed-policy-alternatives? page=2 Hicks, C. (2010).

Chad: views from Darfur refugees and UN protection force for Central Africa. Retrieved on June 8, 2010 from http://www. helomagazine. org/chad/2010/3/4/chad-views-from-darfur-refugees-and-the-un-protection-force. html Pandey, R. (2010). Why Darfur accord will hold. Qatar Tribune. Prunier, G. (2007) Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide. New York: Cornell University Press. SaveDarfur, (2010). What has happened in Darfur? Retrieved on June 7, 2010 from http://www. savedarfur. org/pages/primer Ubiera, S. N. (2010). Darfur. Retrieved on June 7, 2010 from http://achumbalacafe. tripod. com/id1.html United Nations Children’s Fund, (2010). Sudan: Nutrition summary, issue 23. United Nations Security Council, (2010).

AU-UN Hybrid operation in Darfur focused on protection mandate despite challenges. Retrieved on June 8, 2010 from http://www. reliefweb. int/rw/rwb. nsf/db900SID/EGUA-85MR67 USAID, (2010). Sudan food security outlook. Retrieved on June 7, 2010 from http://www. fews. net/docs/Publications/Sudan_Outlook_April_2010_final. pdf World Food Programme, (2010). What is malnutrition? Retrieved on June 7, 2010 from http://www. wfp. org/hunger/stats? gclid=CNG94pXAjaICFU6Z2AodHD9_Uw

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