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3/28/2006 4:21 pm

By Dr Barodi Fashir

In this brief presentation I will try to highlight the background of the conflict in Darfur, the response of the government to the conflict, the humanitarian crisis that resulted from it and our views for solution of the conflict.
Greater Darfur is located in the northwest part of the Sudan bordering Egypt, Libya, Chad and the Republic of Central Africa. It was recently divided into three states: North, South and West Darfur. It has population of about eight million.
Ecologically there it is made up of a desert and semi-desert terrain in the north which is prone to drought and sensitive to fluctuations in rainfall, a fertile Savanna agricultural lands which include Jabel Marrah Mountains in the centre, and the rich Savanna belt in the south.
The population of Darfur is predominantly Muslims, though there are a lot of diversities with regard to language, culture and ethnicity. Some are Arabic speaking as a mother- tongue and the rest speak their local African languages. Culturally some are agriculturalists and some are pastoralists. Some are indigenous non Arabs and some claim to be of Arab decent.
Historical pattern of the Conflict:
Historically there have been intermittent bouts of conflicts for centuries, mainly between the pastoralists and the agriculturalist. Such bouts were not necessarily built on ethnic lines but were rather on lines of profession. You have equally African tribes may easily be classified as nomads or camel and cattle herders such as the Zagawa and the Meidoab. Usually the conflicts were easily resolved through negotiation between tribal leaders from both sides of a conflict and concluded with compensation for loss of life or property, shaking hands and resuming a new life of fraternity. This was the way of life of the people of Darfur for centuries.
What Has Gone Wrong?!
Since the 1980s, clashes between mainly African agriculturalists and predominantly Arab pastoralists have become bloodier for the following reasons:
1-The government ripped the tribal leaders of their powers and left them helpless in conflict resolution without putting in their place a more efficient mechanism.
2-The introduction and wide use of automatic weapons caused more casualties when clashes erupt.
3-Progresive desertification and shortage of rainfall compelled the nomads to emigrate in search of water and new pastoral lands.
4-There are contentious political issues too. For example, in 1986, a number of Arab tribes formed a body known as Arab Alliance {Al Tagammu Alarabi}.The aim of this body has been to achieve political dominance and the control of the region by the Arab ethnicity. Their alliance got full financial and political support from the government in Khartoum.
5-In the 1990s, the National Government allocated land historically owned by an African tribe called Masaleet to Arab tribes recently migrated to the area from Chad. This triggered extremely bloody clashes between the two ethnic groups. The government was accused of supporting the Arabs.
6-The Government again started the promotion of the sentiment of pan-Arabism and Arab-Islamism disregarding the majority black Africans who are equally Muslims .This caused a lot of resentment among the African ethnicities in Darfur.
In February 2003 two rebel groups namely Justice & Equality Movement and Sudan Liberation Army took arms against the government. They succeeded in achieving swift military gains in the initial rounds of the armed conflict.
The Response of the Government:
1- Inflaming ethnic conflict .The Government recruited Arabs from within and abroad to use them as its proxies in the conflict .These are the Janjaweed who have become internationally known for their atrocities and war crimes. In a well coordinated campaign, the Janjaweed who are armed, trained and supported by the Khartoum Government managed in collaboration with Government troops and the coverage of its air force to wipe out the communities of African ethnicities one by one. s
2- Mass murdering civilians of African origin based on direct orders from the highest military command of the country.
3- Aerial indiscriminate bombardment of civilian Africans, their villages and farm land.
4- Deliberate destruction of homes and water sources and civilian property.
5- Systematic gang raping to break the morale and spirit of the people.
6- Obstructing international humanitarian access to internally displaced persons (IDPs) resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians.
7- Destruction of IDP camps (concentration camps) to eliminate the need for international presence in Darfur so that disease and malnutrition can finish the work the militias started three years ago.
8- Continuous harassment, arrest and detention of humanitarian workers especially those who are of Sudanese nationality.
9- Obstruction and delay of the entry of international relief such as food, medicine, shelter...etc.
10- A state of insecurity deliberately created and sustained by the Government and its militia proxies to render impossible the production or delivery of food in almost all parts of Darfur which could have resulted in mass starvations if not for the international humanitarian intervention.
11-The new visa policy and the recent humanitarian and volunteer work policy are nothing but means to obstruct the humanitarian access to the victims of the Government and its militias.
12- Deliberately prolonging the conflict so that the international community, the media and the donors get fatigued and move elsewhere and leave them to accomplish their mission.
In addition, there have been other practical reasons that have made the humanitarian crisis worse such as lack of paved roads .There is not a single paved road in a region the size of France. There is lack of sufficient transportation, there are no railways functioning in Darfur. Because of the man made status of lawlessness, humanitarian relief is frequently looted by armed bandits and gangs.

This situation resulted in a sharp rise in the mortality and morbidity rates in the region. The morbidity statistics from WHO & Darfur humanitarian profile (DHP) shows:
Up to May 2005 at 2.73 million affected, up to July 2005 at 3.20 million affected, up to August 2005 at 3.5 million affected, and up to 4 million affected if inaccessible rural areas are included.
Mortality Statistics of WHO & DHP:
The crude mortality rate CMR {number of deaths in 10000 per a day} in Darfur is 0.8 - 0.9. The normal CMR in Darfur is 0.3. That means there is an excess of 0.6 CMR. With the assumption of 3.5 million conflict victims, there are 6300 extra deaths per month. In other words, there are over 200 extra human lives lost every day since the commencement of the conflict in the first quarter of 2003. The total death figure in Darfur in August 2005 was estimated at 370, 000. In early 2004, the director of US Agency for International Development Andrew Natsios declared:

“If we get relief in (into Darfur), we could lose a third of a million, if we don’t, it could be a million “
From the statistics given I can not see signs of enough relief getting in. Then what is to be done about Darfur?
From the point of view of the Justice & Equality Movement (JEM), the above question should be addressed in three stages:
1- Urgent and immediate needs.
2- Post conflict re-integration and rehabilitation needs.
3- Recovery and sustained development requirements.

Urgent & immediate needs:
• Stop the genocide.
• Stop organized gang raping and sexual harassment.
• Protect the civilians.
• Immediate and effective humanitarian intervention.

How to achieve this?
• The international community should force the government of Sudan to stop aerial bombardment of civilians.
• The regime in Khartoum should be made to stop obstruction of humanitarian access to the IDPs and war affected population.
• The regime should be pressed to disarm the Janjaweed immediately and dismantle their institution.
• Looted livestock should be returned to owners without any delay, or owners be adequately compensated when restitution is not possible. .
• Restitution of the property.
• Free movement of persons and goods shall be restored immediately.

Urgently needed to restore peace:
• Replacement of African Union Mission In Sudan (AMIS) with the United Nations Mission In Sudan (UNMIS) with a broad mandate and a robust force to protect civilians and enforce peace.
• The pressure of the international community is needed to force the government of Sudan to negotiate and conclude peaceful settlement to the conflict with the Movements in good faith and to sign without delay a peace agreement that will be implemented under the supervision of the UN.
• To facilitate voluntary return of displaced people to their original villages.
• Victims of the conflict shall be adequately and promptly compensated for loss of life and property in addition to social and psychological suffering into which they have been subjected by deliberate acts of the regime in Khartoum.
• Perpetrators who are accused of committing genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity should be brought to justice in accordance with relevant UNSC resolutions.

What is expected from Canada?
The role played by Canada in the humanitarian and peace keeping efforts in Darfur are recognized and highly appreciated by the people of Sudan and the international community at large. It is expected to continue its contribution or even increase it to safe civilian life in that part of the world. Canada is also expected to work closely with US to bring world leaders together to device an end to the crisis in Darfur. Canada should impose economic and political sanctions upon the world’s most notorious human right offenders to stop killing their own people and help bring them to justice. Justice must be done. Canada is equally expected to support and work with the UN in transferring AMIS into UNMIS in Darfur.

Long term requirement for lasting peace and security:
• Democratization.
• Reconciliation.
• Reconstruction & Human development.;

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