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Conflict in Darfur, Sudan

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Darfur, Sudan

Since early 2003, Darfur, an arid desert region the size of France, has been gripped by a civil war since 2003 that has killed 300,000 people and displaced another 2.7 million, according to UN figures. Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, says 10,000 people have died. (AFP)

The conflict in Darfur began in the spring of 2003 when two Darfuri rebel movements, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), launched attacks against Khartoum government military installations in response to government neglect and marginalization of the people of Darfur. Sudanese officials answered back by unleashing atrocious acts of violence on any Darfur villages who they determined had ostensibly harbored members of the SLM and JEM. Bombing villages from the air and with the hired help of a government armed nomadic Arab militia called the Janjaweed, over four hundred villages were burnt down, sending the few survivors to seek out refugee camps spread throughout the region and into neighboring Chad. All of this occurred within the span of 29 months. In 2004 George W. Bush declared the crisis in Darfur a “genocide”. Genocide, as defined by Merriam Webster, is “the

deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group”.

It is within the power of the United States government to end the brutalities in Darfur. A more assertive action needs to be taken in order free the Darfur people from the atrocities they suffer on a day to day basis. More pointedly, military action needs to be taken. The region is in the grips of an evil that they cannot free themselves from. The name of this evil; Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, leader of Sudan. Mr. Bashir has been leader of Sudan since 1989 when he seized power in a coup backed by Islamists, he assumed the presidency in 1993. More recently, he conveniently won the country's first multiparty election in more than 20 years in April 2010, an election that ( ) claims was blatantly manipulated. According to an article in the New York Times “Al-Bashir who is suspected of war crimes is often perceived as a villain in the West”. Not only that, but a separate article in the New York Times says “Last fall, Mr. Bashir did not make his customary visit to the United Nations in New York and he has been disinvited to planned international get-togethers in South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and Turkey. French president Nicolas Sarkozy said he would not attend a summit in Egypt this month to avoid any encounter with the Sudanese president”. I can’t blame them, who would want to sit across the table from a man who is possibly facing charges of

strategically murdering thousands of innocent men women and children.

The people of Darfur are not only in daily danger of aerial bombardments and getting slaughtered by the Janjaweed, an Arabic term that translates to “devils on horseback”. They now also face starvation and disease, a consequence of the war torn country caused by the careless dictatorship and genocide of their fearless leader, Al-Bashir. The World Health Organization has warned that a major health catastrophe could erupt if the necessary funds and supplies are not made available to fight disease and malnutrition in the region. Young Darfuri children are especially susceptible to these maladies. UN officials say every fifth child in the Darfur region is acutely undernourished. Many have dysentery, measles and high fever. Children in refugee camps are dying every day from starvation and exhaustion. (CBC News)

“The United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force (UNAMID) now in Darfur replaced an underfunded and underequipped African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur in January 2008. UNAMID to this day remains without the necessary resources to protect the 2.7 million internally displaced persons who live in large camps across Darfur.”(Savedarfur.org)

UNAMID trucks that deliver necessary supplies to the refugee camps are regularly stopped by opportunistic bandits and militias. The drivers sometimes murdered, the trucks pillaged and burned. These occurrences are due to the anarchic conditions now presiding in Darfur. Conditions that have been cultivated through years of violent counterinsurgency measures. US Military presence and increased funding would prove to make the current operation far more successful.

The Sudanese government uses money from other countries investments in its oil supply in order to fund the genocidal acts of the Arab militia groups such as the Janjaweed. “Oil accounts for roughly seventy three percent of Sudan’s export revenue and officials from the Sudanese Energy Ministry estimate that the country has three billion barrels of oil reserves.” (pbs.org) In 1997 economic sanctions imposed by the United States banned American companies from operating in Sudan but other countries have unfortunately neglected to follow suit which results in money continuing to funnel into the hands of Al-Bashir.

Some experts refer to Algeria, Pakistan, China and Russia as the "Darfur Four": Each of these four countries has major oil investments in Sudan and has opposed the U.N. Security Council's plans for arms and oil embargoes. (pbs.org/frontlineworld)

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a declaration adopted by the United Nations on December 10th 1948 states; “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.

We have the power and knowledge to save the people of Darfur from the demoralization and torture they now suffer on a daily basis and I believe it is our duty to do so.

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