Since early 2003, Sudanese government forces and ethnic militia called “Janjaweed” have engaged in an armed conflict with two rebel groups called the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). As part of its operations against the rebels, government forces have waged a systematic campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against the civilian population who are members of the same ethnic groups as the rebels
Between 2003 and 2005, the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias burned and destroyed hundreds of rural villages, killed tens of thousands of people and raped and assaulted thousands of women and girls. The government’s campaign forced more than two million Darfurians from their homes. As of 2006, some 1.8 million live in camps in Darfur and approximately 220,000 have fled into Chad, where they live in refugee camps. In addition to the people displaced by the conflict, at least 1.5 million other people need some form of food assistance because the conflict has destroyed the local economy, markets and trade in Darfur.
What is happening in Darfur now?
In early 2005, the number of government attacks on civilians dropped, partly because the vast majority of rural villages were already destroyed and their inhabitants displaced from the rural areas. As of 2006, however, the situation has dramatically worsened and the fighting has increased. Janjaweed forces with Chadian rebels are conducting attacks over the border into Chad. Janjaweed militias are also continuing to attack civilians and humanitarian aid workers, and are even attacking the camps for internally displaced in Darfur.
Why is the situation in Darfur deteriorating?
One of the key problems is that the Sudanese government continues to follow a policy of supporting ethnic militias, organizing attacks on the civilian population and permitting violations of international law to go unpunished. This has led to a climate of impunity in Darfur, which in turn has allowed other armed groups to flourish and rob and attack civilians and aid workers. The rebel groups are also responsible for abuses, including attacks on aid convoys and some killings of civilians.
What can you do?
We must put pressure on our national leaders to take immediate action. President Bush and the United States Congress have recognized the situation in Darfur as "genocide," but it will take much more than words to end the violence and suffering in Darfur. In fact this recognition imposes a legal obligation, let alone the inherent moral obligation, upon the U.S. to take action to stop the genocide.
Continue to pray for resolve in Darfur and all of the troubles areas of the world. Urge our leaders to take a positive stand in ending this armed conflict.
For more information, please visit www.savedarfur.org