A New Wave of Genocide in Darfur

The ethnic conflict hit innocent people.
Women in Tabit in Sudan’s North Darfur state. Human Rights Watch says mass rape in the town could amount to crimes against humanity. Photograph: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters

On January 2016, while the rest of the world was busy celebrating Christmas and the New Year, the Government of Sudan took advantage of the exterior distraction to continue the second phase of genocide at Jebel Marra Mountains, located in the center of Darfur.

This is the only region which survived the first phase of genocide that occurred in 2003 and resulted in the killing of approximately 500,000 villagers by 80,000 Janjaweed, a militia armed by Sudan government to kill, rape and burn villages of black African tribes. Some of the African ethnic tribes affected and suffering genocide include: Fur, Massaleit, Zadhawa and Tama  tribes.

During the current second phase of genocide, the Sudan government’s regular army is being supported by Rapid Response Forces, a new militia unit made up of former notorious Arab Janjaweed. Although the main target should be the Sudan Liberation rebels under the leadership of Abdalwahid, the government’s forces supported with the Janjaweed destroy villages, kill whoever comes to their sight, loot properties and rape woman and girls. Some of the villages destroyed include: Derbat, Golo, Kalokiting, Sabonfogor, Bardani, Killing Kotorum,  As a result of the attacks about 50,000 persons displaced from these areas have currently gathered in Sorroronk 40km north of Jebel Marra, 20,000 in Neriti town west of Jebel Marra, and 20,000 in Tawila north-east of Jebel Marra.

According to UN agencies who have interviewed the survivors of the ‘new genocide’, the Sudanese government has a strategy in places for creating demographic and cultural changes by depopulating the indigenous African ethnic tribes from Jebel Marra and to replace them with Arab nomads. Because this strategy supports Muslim and Arab ideologies, the Sudan government receives a wide financial and moral support from Arab Gulf countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. This financial and logistical assistance is passed over to former Janjaweed in Darfur to enable them to continue with the genocide plan. In the current phase of the genocide when civilians flee the areas under attacks, the Janjaweed are ordered to ensure that every displaced woman, girl, including young boys, are all raped, properties looted and men killed before their arrival to the safe havens of Tawilaf, Nertiti, Sorotoni.

Ever since the start of the second phase of Darfur genocide in January 2016, about 13,000 people are estimated to have been disappeared or been killed. About 200,000 internally displaced persons have recently fled their villages and now live at gathering points in towns such as Tawila, Nertiti, Sorontoni, Zalingei.

22,000 internally displaced persons fleeing barrel bombs gather at Sorotoni north of Jabel Marra

22,000 internally displaced persons fleeing barrel bombs gather at Sorotoni north of Jabel Marra

The Conflict:

The Darfur conflict started in 1988 when the Arab Gathering Council had been established by the so-called Arab nomads in Darfur with the aim of occupying the entire land of Darfur. This ignited a tribal conflict between the Arab nomads against African ethnic tribes.

In 1999, however, when the African tribes established their own movement called Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) under Abdalwahid Mohammed Nour, the Sudan Muslim government armed and supported the Arab nomads with weapons and logistical assistance with the result of the killing of around 500,000 villagers and the displacement of 2 million persons who are currently gathered at camps established around the five states of Darfur. During this phase thousands of women were also raped.

The climax of the genocide was reached in 2003 creating a worldwide outcry, and those responsible were indicted to the International Criminal Court (ICC), including the President Omar Al Bashir. The international community also responded by sending international NGOs and establishing the current UNAMID peacekeeping mission made up of the UN and African Union mandated to protect civilians in Darfur.

The reasons:

Despite this, one is led to wonder what the other main drivers of conflict are. Some of these include: identity, ethnicity, natural resources and desertification.

With regard to identity, the religion of Islam in Sudan has been used to change the identity and the culture of the Sudanese who are being ‘Arabised’. African languages are never used for education or in the media, nor are they being developed by the authorities, leading to the disappearance of some African languages altogether.

For this reason, the African tribes who still maintain their culture are seen as a menace to the Arabic culture. The best strategy for the Sudanese government to annihilate the African languages is to destroy the tribes who speak them. Besides being persecuted, these tribes are also denied land ownership in other parts of Sudan such as Khartoum and Gezira. For instance in 2003, the government of Sudan destroyed the homes belonging to African speaking tribes at Soba Al  Aradi in Khartoum.

Land and mineral resource are another conflict driver in Darfur, which is very rich in oil, natural minerals, and fertile lands. Added to this is the desertification in northern Darfur that happened as a result of the misuse and cutting down of trees for grazing and farming by Arab nomads. As the desert extends from north to south, the grazing and farming land is reduced, becoming a driver of tribal conflict.

For several reasons, UNAMID, which has been established in Darfur since 2007 faces so many challenges in implementing its mandate. The peacekeepers are frequently ambushed and killed by criminal gangs allegedly supported by the government; they are also poorly equipped with traditional arms.

For these reasons troop-contributing countries are hesitant to work in Darfur and are planning to withdraw. Just recently, on 25 February, South Africa President Jacob Zuma ordered that the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) withdraw from the area by April. The soldiers were part of a 17,000 member strong joint African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) peacekeeping hybrid mission in the area. Before this, in 2012, Tanzania pulled out its troops, soon followed by Thailand in 2013.

The withdrawal of troops is taking place because the Sudanese government creates harsh operational conditions. For example, peacekeepers are sometimes not allowed to go out for their routine patrols and the UN Security Council rarely intervenes to encourage the Sudanese government to cooperate with UNAMID.

This strategy would succeed only with local, regional and international support.  The genocide in Darfur is a lifelong racial cleansing strategy perpetrated by the Sudan government which needs a prompt international intervention because the African Union and the UN have no capacities for resolving this type of conflict.

Human Rights
Sabir Abdalla

Sabir Abdalla is a pseudonim created to protect the identity of the author. He is gender specialist working on issues related to women’s empowerment programs in Sudan. He is also an advocate for women’s protection, women’s human rights in Sudan and his goal is to work to end existing gender inequalities in Sudan.
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