Darfur : The land and people at crossroads
Darfur is one of the richest – in unexploited natural wealth – yet severely underdeveloped regions of Sudan. It is the second largest region of the country and stretches over a large area with a land mass estimated at about 160,000 sq. miles between longitudes 22°E - 27°E and latitudes 10°N - 16°N. Darfur is about the size of France or Iraq. The region is located in the extreme west of the country, adjacent to Sudan’s international borders with Chad, Central African Republic and Libya. Darfur is underdeveloped economically and subsistence agriculture and animal husbandry represent the backbone of its economy. The region lacks the necessary infrastructure such as all-season roads, electricity and energy sources as well as modern agricultural and industrial projects. Darfur’s industry is mainly based on small-scale cottage industry run by individuals and families.
Origin of the armed conflicts in Darfur
The present armed conflict in Darfur dates back to the 1980s when low profile yet protracted violent tribal disputes started rearing their ugly heads in the region. These disputes and atrocities have continued unabated since then without being “heeded nationally” or “noticed internationally” despite the massive human suffering and destruction of lives and livelihoods that they had caused. A number of factors have contributed to the build-up of the present armed conflict.
The Janjaweed and their ideology
The Janjaweed is a coined Arabic word used by the local people in Darfur to refer to gangs of outlaws and robbers. These groups are usually composed of criminal elements from various nomad tribes of Darfur. Some Janjaweed leaders were indicted criminals who had been serving prison sentences when the conflict in Darfur erupted in February 2003. They were released from prison by the government of Sudan and asked to organise themselves and take part in the scorched-earth campaign in Darfur. Uneducated and barely civilised, the Janjaweed are victims, par excellence, of the government Arab-centric cultural programme. They were manipulated and politicised around self-centered and racist ideas of the Arab Congregation. The Janjaweed exclusively identify themselves as Arabs. It can, therefore, be argued that all the Janjaweed are Arabs, yet it should be noted that not all the Arabs of Darfur are Janjaweed.
|>>> Report of the African Union High Level Panel on Darfur, 29 Oct 2009
>>> Report of the Elders’ Mission to Sudan: Bringing Hope, Forging Peace, Nov 2007
>>> Report of the High Level Mission on the Situation of Human Rights in Darfur, March 2007
>>> Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, Jan 2005, (English)
>>> Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, Jan 2005, (Arabic)
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|Darfuri students sit for their annual exam,
12 March 2012