Darfur region is found in the western side of Sudan. The conflict that has been and is still being witnessed in the region started way back in February 2003. On one side of the warring groups is the Sudanese military and a militia group known as janjaweed with recruits mainly from the camel herding tribe of Abbala. On the other side are the two militia groups, Liberation movement army (LMA) and justice and equality movement (JEM), both drawing support from Fur,Masalit and Zaghawa tribes (Waal & Flint, 2005).
The war in Darfur is seen being caused by ethnic and tribal. The two rebel groups; LMA and JEM accused the Arab dominated government for Oppressing non Arabs. They also accused the government of neglecting the Darfur region and mounted rebellion against it. The government in response, according to Waal and Flint, sponsored the Janjaweed rebel group which unleashed terror and committed several human right violations by engaging in mass looting and killing and systematic rape in the non-Arab dominated region of Darfur.
Several activist groups eg.
Genocide intervention network and the save Darfur coalition have termed the situation as genocide mostly in reference to the position held by the former US secretary of state, Collin Powell. However earlier by September 18th, 2004 the security council of the United Nations passed resolution 1654 calling for a commission of inquiry into the Darfur situation. In addition, on 31st January 2005 the UN released a report saying that they couldn’t label the mass killings and rape as genocide because genocidal intentions appeared to be missing according to the investigations done (Halberd, 2007)
A list of factors stands accused to be responsible for the situation in Darfur.
These majorly include drought, famine, and desertification and population pressure. The UN approximates that the conflict have left as many as 500,000 people dead from violent attacks and diseases (Wintenson, 2007), while the US holocaust memorial museum estimates that about 100,000 people have died yearly since the war broke out. As of October 2006 it’s estimated that around 2.
5 million people have been displaced as a result (Ruffin, 2005). The Sudanese government has been at the centre stage of the Darfur problem . It has been accused of among other atrocities mutilating evidence, killing witnesses, gagging the media (Wintenson, 2007). The UN mission accused the Sudanese government of engaging in gross violation of human rights in early 2007 and called for international interventions.
Wintenson (2007) observes that the Darfur situation stopped being the sole business of the people of Sudan along time ago. This is evident in the action of United Nations Security Council on 31st August 2006 when it signed resolution 1706 which called for a 20,600 UN peace keeping forces(UNAMID) to supplement the weak 7000 man African Union peace keeping forces in the Darfur region to protect the civilians.
The country’s top office bearer, president Omar Al-bashir have been accused of having orchestrated and systematically executed a plan to substantially destroy tribes because of their ethnic alienations (Sumart, 2007). The ICC (International Criminal Court) on 14th July 2008 slammed him with ten charges of the war crimes against the then president with three counts of genocide; five counts of crimes against humanity and two of murder (Halberd, 2007). All these are clear signs that the problem is caused both by natural causes as well as by the people themselves.
Just like Samantha (1978) describes in what has been known as the first of all the modern cases of genocide including Turks mass killing of the Armenians during world war 1, if nothing is done about the situation in Darfur urgently by adopting a state of non-response like what the USA did during the above event, then certain patterns that can be replicated in future are set. This prediction was attested to by the eventual cases of genocide in Cambodia, Iraq, Rwanda and Serbia after the 2nd world war. International Interventions
The international attention to the Darfur conflict emanated from the two reports of Amnesty international in July 2003 and that of International crisis group in December 2003. This was followed by a period of intense media coverage especially after the outgoing UN president and a most respected humanitarian coordinator for the republic of Sudan, Hon. Mukesh Kapila declared Darfur the greatest humanitarian crisis in March 2004 (Corzine & Brownback, 2005) Between the year 2003-2004, Both the African union and the European Union sent monitors to observe the cease fire which was signed on April 8th 2004.
Several reports were produced that indicated that blatant violation of human rights was taking place in Darfur and serious attention was of priority. Besides, it is during this time the UN gave the Sudanese government an ultimatum to disarm all the militia groups including the janjaweed, failure to which it would consider imposing sanctions on Sudan. The Arab league when registering its fears of Sudan becoming another Iraq requested that the deadline be extended.
Eventually, It is the Resolution of 1996 that imposed a strict arms embargo on mostly the janjaweed and even the other militia which was also operationalised (Edward, 1995) During the same time in 13th September 2004, WHO published its first Darfur mortality survey. This formed the first significant indicator about the deaths in Darfur. Also during the same time according to Halberd (2007), the US presidential candidates John Kerry and George bush agreed that the situation in Darfur is that of genocide during a public debate.
The UN pledged 100 million dollars to support the expansion of the African union peace keeping force in Darfur. The UN also spearheaded the signing of two accords, key in ensuring the establishment of no flying zone above the areas controlled by rebels in Darfur. This was mainly to end military bombing of villages belonging to rebels in the region. Despite all the measures by the international community to control the situation, the killings were still rampant in many parts of southern Sudan.
In 2005, the ultimate report of the International committee of inquiry on the Darfur region identified 51 people allegedly involved in the gross violation of the human rights. It also recommended them for prosecution by the international criminal court. A peace keeping force was agreed upon to monitor peace in the south Sudan region. It is in the same efforts that the Libyan president Muammar al-Gaddaffi invited the leaders of Nigeria, the republic of Eritrea, the republic of Sudan, Chad and the Arab dominated Egypt to discuss the Darfur crisis in Tripoli.
During this time, Canada provided 105 armored vehicles and personal protective equipment to support the efforts of the AU of peace keeping in Sudan. On 18th November 2005, the US senate did the world proud by passing the Darfur peace seeking and accountability act through a unanimous consent (Waal & Flint, 2005) The year 2006, the food and agriculture organization (FAO) called for 40 million dollars to boost its relief and recovery efforts, emphasizing that humanitarian assistance need to be provided together with long term development assistance to ensure sustainable peace in the Darfur region.
A big rally was convened by save Darfur coalition in association with Jewish world service for America, students taking action now in Darfur and the genocide intervention network in Washington DC America. Approximately 100,000 protesters and students from at least 46 states joined a large group of law makers and celebrities in calling for more aid and increased participation of the international peacekeepers in Darfur. At this point a Dr. Eric Reeves claimed in his report that the death toll in the region had most likely surpassed 450,000 (Corzine & Brownback, 2005).
The US deputy secretary Robert B. Z. initiated the signing of an accord between the Sudanese liberation army and the government. The accord was seeking to disarm the Janja weed militia and disbandment of all rebel militia groups and incorporate them in the government army. But as Corzine and Brownback (2005) ascertain, this was however short rival groups lived since the smaller SLA and the justice and equality movement rejected the accord. A rock music singer and a humanitarian activist, Bono, together with an NBC reporter visited the region to create awareness to the public about the crisis.
“million voices for Darfur’, an initiative of the save Darfur coalition saw the US senate members leader Bill Frist and his counterpart Senator Hillary Clinton sign the 1000,000th and 1000,001st postcards that sought the Bush administrations intervention to back a stronger multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur. The Japanese government also promised a 10 million dollar in cash in humanitarian aid for those victims of the Darfur genocide. In 31st August US President G. Bush signed the contentious Darfur peace keeping and accountability act previously accepted by the house and senate (Halberd, 2007).
The US president George W Bush gave a timely speech at the US holocaust Memorial Museum on the day of April 18th 2007 discrediting the Sudan government and threatening to use serious sanctions if the Government doesn’t act accordingly. The sanctions he said would include barring dollar transactions with Sudan and block any associations with Sudan 29 businesses. Later on it added another 31 businesses to the list. Also in view of its upcoming 2008 Olympic games, China which had initially given Sudan financial and military aid, through the president Hu jintao warned the president of Sudan against the Darfur situation.
Israel also threatened to expel Sudanese refugees if the government refused to put in more effort to end the crisis in Darfur Later on, the Israeli government in a spirit of humanity was quoted in one of its local dailies on 5th September 2007 to be planning to grant citizenship to the refugees from Darfur. It is in the year 2008 that Prosecutors made history at the international criminal court by filing charges of war crime against the Sudanese president, making it the 1st case in the feared ICC against a sitting president.
All these efforts at the local and international level could have settled the situation but Constructive dialogue have constantly failed making the efforts futile. Criticism of the International Interventions The happenings in Darfur poses a critical question as to whether the world as a whole is committed enough to protect lives and uphold human dignity. The unprecedented sufferings of the people in Darfur are clearly as a result of lack of interest by the international community as well as poor governance locally.
Waal and Flint (2005) observes that Khartoum constant insistence on its sovereignty made the international community blink thus the collapse of the resolution 1706 which provided an opportunity for the international community to execute its responsibility to protect. According to Meyer (2004), most of the powerful countries have limited their responses to calling on the United Nations to act but lacking both the financial muscles and the military support, the UN has left the AU to deploy its forces to Darfur without a clear mandate to protect the civilians.
The international community has failed to address the political and the economic structures that underlines the conflict in the region and has instead focused its attention on humanitarian assistance and debating the genocide label. The minority rights group (MRG) in October 2006 challenged the UN and the great power countries that the lessons emanating from the Darfur crisis were congruent to those learnt during the Rwandan genocide and that were it not because of these forces ineptitude the senseless killings, rape, and displacement could have been avoided (Thomas, 2008).
Although people may tend to point an accusing figure on African union only, the European Union also cannot escape blame on its part. The most outstanding cases of genocide in the world i. e. holocaust, Rwandan genocide and the Cambodian genocide, wrote to it calling on it to end the Darfur crisis with the UN peace keeping forces as the chief viable option. However as Aegis Trust director, James Smith puts it in (Halberd, 2007), the African Union has done well in Darfur and executed what it could under the circumstances it operated.
Smith however laments but laments that the rest of the world didn’t support these efforts with sufficient funds or equipment. In Samantha (1978), the book a problem from hell, she laments at the existing strange moral relativism, because if the then president of the USA Bill Clinton could be vilified for sleeping with an intern, how come nobody did the same for his inaction during the Rwanda genocide? There was also mixed reactions by different world superpowers in solving the Darfur crisis.
While the US was for the full implementation of the resolution placing an arms embargo in Sudan, China and Russia breached it in what analysts believe was in an attempt to acquire some of the Sudanese oil reserves. China only came out to condemn the crisis in Darfur after the French presidential candidate Francois Bayrou and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow called for sustained pressure and even a possibility of boycotting the then upcoming Olympic Games.
Some people also claimed that the international media fraternity was also responsible for the lack of a quick solution to the Darfur crisis by exaggerating the situation. That when the actual report on the ground indicates that 100,000 people are dead the international media would actually balloon it to 400,000. This they claimed was an action by the western powers to mask their real intensions of hegemony and persistent quest to control the Arab world (Ruffin, 2005) The logistic problem in Darfur Logistic problems are at the core of the Darfur problem.
The Darfur region has no proper road network making accessibility a major problem. This means that transportation of aid is difficult because the only Sudan’s international seaport at Port Sudan is approximately 1300km away while the Khartoum airport is around 700km away. During the rainy seasons the dusty roads become virtually impassable. Verifying the imports at the port of entry is also a major problem because most of the time the verifying officers are held up in the transport crisis. Banditry has also increased in the recent past.
In 2007/8, about 22% of all the transporting companies suspended their services to Darfur due to security reasons. Trucks ferrying aid have been hijacked and the drivers captured and kidnapped (BBC news, 19 August 2008). This has necessitated the need for the government to escort these drivers, these escorts though are rare and only done when manpower can be spared. In response for these shortcomings, UNJLC in conjunction with CARE international have partnered to provide a common pipeline for the various UN agencies and NGOs.
Those organizations that have been adverse affected include those that require constant supply of food substances or food supplements. They are forced to charter planes to ferry the food to their destinations but this is expensive and unsustainable, making the provision of such critical services only temporary because of lack of funding (Wintenson, 2007). The humanitarian problem in Darfur is evident in the number of humanitarian workers (13,000) and the several hundreds of relief agencies.
Darfur thus pays homage to the largest humanitarian operation worldwide. Land issue is another contentious issue that cannot be wished away because it’s at the heart of all the peace agreements and wars witnessed in Sudan (Wintenson, 2007). A Critical Analysis of the Darfur Crisis The situation in Darfur has proved to be one that involves a multiplicity of factors. The situation has according to Corzine and Brownback (2005) has been hijacked by forces whose clear agenda and strategy in ending the genocide in the region remains foggy.
Corzine and Brownback (2005) attribute this to Sudan’s vast oil reserves which seemingly some countries have been accused of trying to woe instead of focusing on solving the problem. There has been confusion as to whether the situation in Darfur was a case of genocide or just tribal clashes as claimed by some sources. According to Justice Africa (UK), June 18th, 2004 in the (Wintenson, 2007) on the avoidance and reprimanding the crime of genocide, the situation in Darfur was blatantly genocide. There is more than a single reason as to why the international interventions in Darfur efforts to stop the destructions and killings failed.
The first reason is the common believe that the Sudanese government is a very active perpetrator of the genocide. Looking at the Samantha (1978) work, The UN and even the international community have a duty to respect the sovereignty of governments and therefore they couldn’t turn a peace keeping business into a war against the Sudanese government. This brings to light a very important point, that the success of any attempt by external forces to bring lasting peace and social order in Darfur will very much depend on the support and co-operation that the government will accord.
It’s therefore very important that the Sudanese government abandons its interests of using racial hatred of making the rebellious communities subservient to the elite, so that the international interventions can have a positive impact (Meyer, 2004). The Sudanese government’s perpetration of the war is evident in its rejection of the resolution 1706 which was a sole opportunity it wasted in ensuring lasting peace in the country. The second and most prominent reason was that the international community just lie in the case of the Rwandan genocide was not very committed to ensuring the end of the war.
The Rwandan government had in those days sided with the Hutu militia against the other tribe,Tutsi. The UN instead of increasing its forces in the area it withdrew from the place setting stage for the historic genocide that executed approximately half a million Tutsi lives (Edward, 1995). This is the replica of what is happening now. There has been a lot of hesitation, watching, sleeping, waiting and unnecessary deliberations while people continue to be murdered. The other crucial reasons were that countries, forces or agencies were reluctant to do anything.
That could be interpreted to mean that they are in any way connected to the war on terror which specifically the war for United States. The global community neglected the situation partly because the incident occurred simultaneously with the war in Iraq where there was a lot of attention. The fourth and key reason for the failure has something to do with the tilting power balance in the world today. China is the fastest rising major economy and its support to Sudan may be seen as way of trying to get more oil from Sudan. Being one of the largest importers of oil, china is likely to protect Sudan from any sanction by other countries.
The other last and possible reason for failure is the complexity and the intricacy of the problem both socially and politically. The issue of the existence of two social divides like the impoverished people of the Darfur region and the elitists in Khartoum was the social recipe that catalyst the conflicts. The government thus took advantage of the situation to turn the social problem into an ethnic cleansing that in turn gave birth to a Frankenstein monster that was going to be difficult to control ones it was unleashed and set loose i. e. genocide.
The war as it is right now is an on and off fire that is kept burning by ethnic, linguistic, cultural and social rivalries (Sandy, 2007). As things stand the most viable option that can bring lasting peace to Darfur and the republic of Sudan is a political settlement. This should seek to incorporate both the warring parties in the government. However this is only possible if the whole process is executed in a conclusive atmosphere which can only be created by a binding document like a memorandum to which all parties agree. This calls for commitment on both sides of the divide in the presence of a negotiator.
The rules of the election must be set in advance and the repercussions of violating any must be agreed upon through consensus. The Darfur crisis provides a platform on which pertinent issues can be addressed and key questions asked to help solve the problems inherent in the society. The key questions include;-How universal are universal human rights? When does a country government loose legitimacy and moral authority to govern, and when it does how the international community does ensure that the interests of the people are safeguarded?
What is the role of the international bodies like AU or UN? Crisis in most cases result in unprecedented abuse of human rights, suffering of the vulnerable human population e. g. the children under five years of age, women, the disabled, the aged among others (Samantha, 1978). The three key factors responsible for underdevelopment include disease, poverty and illiteracy are very inherent in the Darfur. The region is indeed in a crisis, International community should therefore be working towards solving the state of social disorder existing in Darfur.
The neighboring countries on the other hand should be accommodating enough to uphold the international charter of human rights that govern immigration so that those lucky to escape the harsh attacks are hosted and protected. The immunity to arrest and prosecution that a number of high profile individuals have seemingly been enjoying should also be neutralized to prevent political impunity from becoming our daily basket of bread in the world today (Waal & Flint, 2005). The underlying question that emerges after this analysis of the Darfur region is how we want to end the war in Darfur and ensure lasting peace.
As things stand, it would be accurate to say that the ultimate result should guide the actions. Therefore it can both be a peaceful process or it can as well involve the use of force. One key issue that must be taken seriously is education of the people . The Darfur situation reached where it is today because the world was not aware of the real situation on the ground and therefore went about its business while disaster was developing in darfur. This will spark reaction and generate opinions that will be instrumental in finding lasting solutions.
The solution needed in Darfur is a quick one because when it comes to leaving the country come out with their own solution, then it simply means perpetuating agony and pain. A possible sanction seeking to prevent the political leaders in Sudan from leaving their country has also been floated. This simply targets to force the political leaders in the country to find lasting solutions to their problems. Simple acts of donating can also go along in changing a life in Darfur (Corzine & Brownback, 2005).
The brutal murders that occurred in the Darfur will forever remain embedded in history books. To those who unfortunately lost their lives we most sincerely empathize with their families but to them who are still stuck in the quagmire, a ray of hope will finally open a new chapter in their lives because a new Sudan is possible. This is a common responsibility to the entire world to ensure that the hope of delivering a new Sudan is kept alive in its population by tirelessly seeking alternatives that would bring the desired change.
But to the people of Sudan and the government that have perpetuated the crisis, its important for them to understand that a time has come when a nation is more important than an individual and hence people must be ready to make decisions, mend fences, move mountains if need be for the sake of the nation References BBC news (19 August 2008). Sudan’s situation getting worse. Retrieved on December 12, 2008 From News. bbc. co. uk Corzine, J. S. & Brownback, S. (2005). End the Genocide. Retrieved on December 11, 2008 from <http://www.
washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/articles> Edward, T. (1995). Escape from Slavery. NY: St. Martin’s Griffin Halberd, G. (2007). The ‘Genocide of Olympics. The Wall Street Journal, 36, 56-78 Samantha, P. (1978). A Problem from Hell: America and the time of Genocide. Canada: HarperCollins publishers Sumart, D. (2007, June 19). Gulf nations conflicting on ICC double standards on Sudan. New York Times, pp. 2A, 5A. Sandy, S. (2007). China’s connection in Sudan: Arms and Oil. Journal for economic relations, 36, 12-23. Ruffin, D. , (Feb 2005).
Darfur: Genocide in simple View by bnet articles. Retrieved on December 11, 2008 from http://www. findarticles. com/p/articles Wintenson, C. (Feb 2007). Two Views of the Sudan, the Honorable Society of the Middle. Temple, Trinity 2004, Issue 37. p. 3 Thomas, R. (2008). The stake to prosecute Sudan’s leader over Darfur. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Hills Books. Meyer, G. (2004). War and Faith in Sudan. Antifield: Eerdmans Publishing Co. , 2005 Waal, A. L. & FLINT, J. (2005). Darfur: a short history of a long war. Yale: Yale university