Select Committee on International Development Memoranda

Memorandum submitted by the Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre (DRDC) [13]


  This paper was prepared in response to the request of the International Development Committee of the UK House of Commons for information from non-governmental organisations and individuals to assist the Committee conduct its inquiry entitled DARFUR, SUDAN: CRISIS, RESPONSE AND LESSONS. The purpose of this paper is twofold. On the one hand it gives some brief background information about the Darfur region and the origin of the current humanitarian crisis. In this regard, it provides analysis of the root causes that underpin the present situation as well as the new pattern of violence that devastated the region since the 1990s. The paper will place certain emphasis on some little known features of the Darfur crisis including the situation of people originating from the region especially members of the Fur, Massaleet, Zaggawa and other African tribes who live in other parts of the country as they are being systematically victimised and harassed because of their blood ties with the victims of the tragedy in Darfur. In addition it includes a chronology of some of the events that occurred in the few months that preceded the escalation of the conflict and ignited the present rebellion.

  On the other hand the paper intends to outline the important role being played by the international and regional communities in protecting the victims of the crisis in the region, meeting their necessary humanitarian needs and also in persuading the warring factions to sit at the negotiating table with a view to working out a negotiated political solution to the conflict. Finally the paper draws lessons and conclusions from the tragedy that engulfs the region with the view that decision-makers gain further knowledge of the extent of the crisis in order to help them make informed decisions.

  Tribal disputes among ethnic groups in Darfur especially those between the sedentary African tribes and Arab nomads are not new phenomena in the region. This is because of the tribal nature of the region and the different living patterns between the settled farmers and the nomad herders. Yet in the past tribal disputes—both inter and intra-tribal disputes—were characterised by their sporadic, unmeditated and limited nature. No previous tribal conflicts in Darfur or Sudan were capable of displacing more than 1.5 million individuals or forcing more than two hundred thousands to cross the international borders into neighbouring countries. Tribal conflicts in Darfur were fought against many backgrounds but they have never acquired the form of an all-round assault based on collective ethnic or tribal affiliation. They have rarely devolved into the present conspicuously polarised racial stands that are increasingly being assumed by the two broad tribal groupings in the region ie Arab tribes and African tribes. Politicisation of tribal differences is the main force that drives the current conflict. In fact since 1989 the national government started relying heavily on militia groups from Darfur and other parts of Sudan to fight a proxy war in South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains and to crush rising dissent in Darfur, including an SPLA-inspired rebellion in 1992. This gave the nomads leverage with the government, which rewarded them with positions at the local and national administrative levels as well as at the federal sovereign level as cabinet ministers and other portfolio holders. Most importantly the governments accorded the nomad groups unlimited economic, financial and military backing at the expense of other communities.

  The present armed conflict and associated humanitarian tragedy in Darfur date 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. A number of reasons have contributed to the build up of the present tragedy. Darfur and its people have been ignored and marginalised both economically and politically by the successive national governments since Sudan's independence in 1956. Natural disasters that have hit the country—in particular drought and desertification experienced by Darfur in the 1980s—caused famine in some areas of the region and consequently it was followed by massive migration of nomads into areas inhabited by sedentary African tribes. Local efforts to end the growing crisis in Darfur were frustrated by the government's overt support of nomad groups against indigenous Africans and its lack of interest and political will to work out a viable and just national solution to the problems of the region. Dismantling of the hitherto well-established traditional chieftains systems that organise the life of people and solve intra and inter-communal disputes in the region. The influx of large quantities of weapons into Darfur and the nomad groups' encouragement of their kinsmen to emigrate from neighbouring countries into the region. This cross-border immigration, which continues unabated until now has been consolidated manifold by the ongoing conflict and the support the immigrants receive from the national and regional governments. Added to this burning situation was the irrational interference of national and regional governments in favour of the nomad groups.

  As of late the international community became increasingly involved in the crisis in Darfur. This involvement comes amidst accusation that the international community did too little and too late. After long months of atrocities, destruction, killings and protest the UN Security Council adopted two weak resolutions that even failed to authorise economic and military sanctions against the government in Khartoum, let alone deploying the much needed international military force to protect the defenceless civilian victims of the carnage in Darfur. Yet it should be stressed that it was only in response to pressure from the international community that the warring factions agreed to undertake some steps such as the signing of ceasefire arrangements, commitment to allow unrestricted humanitarian access to the needy and the overall political engagement for a negotiated settlement of the crisis. Regional and international efforts are currently underway to persuade the warring parties to speed up political negotiations in order to end the conflict. As such there is a long way to go before durable stability and, eventually, peace can be regained in the region. In the meantime, protecting civilians will remain a priority for some years to come. Indeed, the daunting humanitarian and other life-saving needs of the displaced and refugee populations must be addressed before these needs further develop into massive silent killers. However there are serious difficulties facing relief operations mainly the lack of safety and security and little financial contributions. This is the present situation despite repeated calls from the UN Security Council, Secretary General and the African Union (AU) to the world community to extend possible help.

  However, the international community—in particular Western European governments, UN agencies and humanitarian relief organisations—has played a cardinal role in helping ease the humanitarian situation in Darfur since the beginning of the conflict. Thanks to the medical and relief service of groups like Médecins Sans Frontie"res, MEDAIR, Save the Children, CARE, Oxfam, USAID, etc, which saved the lives of millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in Darfur and eastern Chad. The international community still encounters serious difficulties in its work, yet success was achieved in many respects. The role of the British government will be discussed in a separate section of this study. The paper will attempt to make some critical analysis of the effectiveness of the response of the international community towards the crisis. Our objective is to shed some light on the potential benefit to the people of the region and the world community that could be achieved through a change in the current modus operandi. This is necessary as it helps to introduce a more suitable approach to promote effective response especially in the post-conflict rehabilitation and rebuilding phase. Some ideas will be put forward on the importance of the involvement of independent national and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society groups in helping the ongoing process. The paper will touch on some of the aspects and role that indigenous civil society groups are expected to play in helping the regional and international efforts to end the crisis in Darfur and regain peace and stability as well as their role in rebuilding the region during the post conflict period.

  The paper concludes by drawing attention to the fact that armed conflicts, displacement and humanitarian needs in Darfur are expected to continue for some years to come before peace and tranquillity are regained in the region. The political process that could help bring an end to the crisis is expected to be complicated, painstaking, time consuming and volatile. New rebel groups have recently emerged in Darfur, which are not represented at the Abuja talks and may well need to be considered in the future talks. Building the destroyed lives and livelihoods of the war-affected people in the region requires vast mobilisation of human and material resources. Because of the tremendous damage done in Darfur there is an urgent need for critical strategic thinking of the whole approach so far used to address the situation. Efforts should also be invested to planning for the post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation phase.


  The Darfur region 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 a remote region located in the extreme west of the country adjacent to Sudan's borders with Chad, Central African Republic and Libya. Darfur was an independent Muslim kingdom known as the Fur Sultanate for a period of about 448 years (1450-1916) with a short interval of alien rule during the Turko-Egyptian and Mahadist States. The Sultanate of Darfur was a well-established Kingdom with its own written laws, system of government and external diplomatic relationships with some of the major political capitals of the world of that time. Towards the end of 1916 the independent Sultanate of Darfur was finally annexed to present-day Sudan by the then British colonial rulers of the country. The British invasion of Darfur was partly in retaliation to the position of Sultan Ali Dinar, the last ruler of Darfur, when he decided to camp with the Turkish Islamic caliphate during World War I.

  Darfur is a promising land where large parts of the region, especially in Western and Southern Darfur States, are blessed with fertile soil, huge water sources and a rich fauna and flora. As such, the region is host to considerable domestic and wild livestock populations. Domestic livestock includes sheep, goats, cattle and camels estimated at over 25% of Sudan's livestock population and accounts to about 30% of the country's livestock trade. Darfur's livestock wealth was the backbone of Sudan's economy especially in its foreign export earnings in the period before the country started exporting crude oil and gold. Although the Darfur region has lost some of its forests and grazing land because of drought and desertification, it is still suitable for investment especially in the fields of agriculture, horticulture and livestock development with experienced and cheap labour force in these fields. The region's prospective underground mineral wealth including crude oil reserves and other valuable minerals is yet to be exploited. The people of Darfur believe that the government is reluctant to embark on major mineral exploration projects in the region despite the fact that commercial quantities of crude oil are expected in the region. With effective policy to preserve the environment, cultivate the land, revive the ecological system, introduce suitable development projects and rehabilitate basic infrastructure, future investments in Darfur in particular in the fields of mineral exploration, game sport, agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry would be a highly profitable enterprise.

  Darfur—which means homeland of the Fur people—is host to approximately six million or one fifth of Sudan's population of about 30 million. [14]The people of Darfur are divided into two main ethnic groups viz, (1). Indigenous, African sedentary groups; and (2). Migrants, nomadic groups of Arab mixed origin. Within these broad ethnic groupings the Fur people constitute the majority of the inhabitants of the region. Among the largest tribes of the region the Fur, Massaleet and Zaggawa are indigenous Africans while the Rezigat, Missiriya, Bani Halaba and Ta'aisha are nomad tribal people of Arab-mixed origin. Together with these main groups many other distinct tribal groups live in Darfur such as the Tama, Burti, Tunjour, Dajou, Bergou, Bergid etc which are considered as indigenous Africans and the Ma'alia, Bani Hussien, Mahariya, Mahameed, Um Jallool, Taisha, Salamat, Awlad Rashid etc which are considered as Arab nomads. Historically all migrant ethnic groups in Darfur have made valuable contribution to the State in all fields of life and accepted to live under the Fur rule. Accordingly, each one of these groups was accorded a piece of land known as "Dar" or homeland where they lived and organised their affairs.

  The nomad camel herders in Darfur usually inhabit the northern parts of the region where the majority is African Zaggawa who live side by side with the African Medoub and other nomads of Arab-mixed origin. The western parts of Darfur including the fertile landscapes surrounding the Jabal Marra massive are the traditional home of the sedentary African groups such as Fur, Massaleet and other non-Arab tribes. In the southern parts of Darfur there is noticeable presence of the Rezigat, Missiriya and other tribal groups of cattle herders who trace their origin to the Arab peninsula. This mosaic of indigenous African tribes and the migrant tribes of Arab-mixed origin managed to co-exist in the region for many centuries.

  Although most of the indigenous African tribes of Darfur are farmers and the bulk of Arabs are herders, interactions between individuals and sub-groups of both ethnic groups were peaceful rather than hostile. In different occasions complementary relationships developed between the herding and farming communities. [15]The nature of the complementary relationships was based on the provisions of the African farming communities to the Arab herders and vice versa. The farmers provided herders with agricultural produce such as millet, sorghum, vegetables and fruits whereas the herding communities provided farmers with animal products such as meat, milk, hides and butter etc. More so, herders made their animals graze on the stalks of millet, sorghum and tomatoes after the harvest and the animals maintained the fertility of the farmlands with their manure. [16]In addition farmers used to rely on herders who take some of their animals to distant pasturelands during the dry seasons and the latter leave their weak animals and heavy belongings with the farmers. This process created friendship between members of the two groups to the extent that in some cases they intermarried and borrowed from each other's cultures. As the case of the relationship between the Fur and the Bani Halba in the south-western part of Darfur. [17]As a result of this peaceful interaction between Arabs and indigenous Africans in the region, the indigenous languages of groups such as the Berti, Burno and Tunjur died and they now mainly speak Arabic. Many Arabs also speak languages of groups whose individuals closely interacted with them.

  However, Darfur society was not a conflict free society. Wars were fought between individuals and groups but most of the wars that were fought before mid 1980s were mainly between the sub-divisions within the Arab clans. For example the major wars between Rezigat and Ma'alia in 1960s in south-eastern Darfur, Mahariya and Bani Halba in the 1970s in south-western Darfur and the Gimir and Fallata in early 1980s in the southern corner of Darfur. All these conflicts involved groups of people that identify themselves as Arabs. [18]The only major conflict in recent history, which involved a group of indigenous Africans and Arab nomads was in early 1960s between Zaggawa and Mahariya camel herders. However, these conflicts were fought in a limited scale mainly over access to pasture or economic privileges. Local authorities were able to contain them within a few months. These wars can largely be considered as common inter-clan conflicts in a tribal society rather than ethnic or racial wars. During these wars local and national governments successfully played the role of an impartial arbitrator. Traditional leaders eg Magdoum, Shartaye, Nazir and Omda) were powerful mediators to settle differences between the warring groups. The traditional administration regulated the movements of nomads between the areas of sedentary population. Conflicts that may arise between individual herders and farmers were effectively and expeditiously resolved usually through efforts of tribal leaders or the local authorities.

  Since 1988 Darfur has been experiencing overt politicisation of ethnic and tribal difference with the formation of the Arab Congregation[19] and the increased reference to Zurga, which is a racist connotation that includes the non-Arab indigenous population of Darfur. [20]After Sudan's national reconciliation in 1977 between the then government of General Gaffar Nimeiri and the exiled Sudanese political parties, Darfur became a fertile ground for clandestine activities mainly by the National Islamic Front and Umma Party. These two political parties were in a coalition aimed at the overthrow of Nimeiri's regime. As both parties were supported by Libya and under the influence of its political discourse of Arab Nationalism, they successfully transmitted this idea to Arabs among their constituencies in the region. As a result of this doctrine the latter invented a term of difference, Zurga, in early 1980s as a label for the non-Arab population. The word Zurga is charged with stereotypes related to the legacy of slavery in Sudan (eg lower human species, or those who deserve to be enslaved, uncivilized, pagans, etc). The line was thus demarcated between Arab and African populations in the region. Since then, the Arab clans/tribes largely acted as a unified group whereas the indigenous African populations continued to act as individual ethnic groups. It was only in 1998 and after intensive attacks of the Arab militias, which were later accompanied by regular government forces, that the African tribes of Darfur were compelled to grasp the term Zurga and charge it with their own meanings (eg indigenous, original, African, owners of the land and so forth).

  At the time when the term Zurga was invented as a signifier of a particular category of the population in the region, the idea of Al-Hizam Al-Arabi (the Arab-Belt) was widespread among the Arab populations of western Sudan. Al-Hizam Al-Arabi aimed at transforming the area that lies between the Red Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, which includes African Sahelian countries like Chad, Niger and Mali into an Arab region. Following the overthrow of Nimeiri's regime in 1985, the people of Darfur often noticed military vehicles loaded with different types of weapons, military equipment and personnel penetrating into the region through the northern border and heading to the areas where Arab nomads camped. Since 1985 the Ministry of Defence in Khartoum started providing weapons to the nomad herders of western Sudan under the pretext that they needed the weapons to defend themselves from possible SPLA attacks.

  For more than a decade the Darfur region has been facing an organised campaign of destruction of life and livelihood as well as systematic plunder of property and wealth. An incredible state of lawlessness and armed robbery mainly against the Fur and other peaceful African populations of the region accompanied this campaign. The already burning situation has further worsened manifold under the rule of General Omar Al Bashier especially as he actively pursues implementation of aggressive and radical policies inside Sudan and abroad. From July 1989 to December 2002 it was estimated that more than 10,000 persons were summarily executed in the three States of the Greater Darfur Region (Western, Southern and Northern). An equal number of persons could have perished because of conflict-induced famine; disease, agony and lack of safety and security while many other thousands especially women and children have been traumatised, wounded or maimed for life. Attacks by militia groups collectively known as the "Janjaweed"—that are armed and supported by the government of Sudan—are at the origin of the current crisis. These attacks were so coordinated, organised and so widespread that they caused an unimaginable agony and suffering to the people of the region throughout the 1990s. The situation became so dramatic with the involvement of the army to the extent that it was characterised as crimes against humanity, war crimes or ethnic cleansing by highly authoritative reports by UN agencies. However, some circles such as the US Congress, Senate and the State Department[21] in addition to some human rights organisations and experts considered the crimes committed in Darfur as genocide.

  To face the challenge posed by the destruction of life and livelihood in their region, and as a sign of their lost confidence in the willingness of national and local governments to protect them against attacks of the Janjaweed, the people of Darfur have developed their own militia groups for self-defence, resistance and recovery of stolen objects and livestock. The formation of small tribal groups for self-defence continued throughout the second half of the 1990s. It should be noted that rebellion against the government policies in Darfur started in reality in 1992 when the late Mr Daoud Yahya Bolad, a one time leading member of the ruling party of General El Bashier, became aware of the government complicity in the campaign of destruction that targets the African tribes of Darfur. Mr Bolad quietly broke ranks with the government, forged a link with the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army and Movement (SPLA/M) and started organising members of his Fur clan in the Jabal Marra area. He was able to establish a western faction of the SPLA/M and get the support of some followers in the western parts of Darfur. Mr Bolad was speedily arrested and summarily executed by the security forces in 1992 and consequently his movement ceased to exist.

  Conflicts and disputes in Darfur witnessed a dramatic development in February 2003 when the desperate representatives of the indigenous African tribes came together and organised themselves in the Sudan Liberation Army and Movement (SLA/M) and declared war against the government authority in the region. The SLA/M achieved remarkable success in few months and rapidly developed into a famous movement that draws membership mainly from the indigenous African tribes of the Darfur region. The SLA/M was followed by the formation of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which established its own army and political wing in April 2003. The government's immediate response to the insurgency in Darfur was violent and aggressive. It excluded all venues for a negotiated settlement of the conflict and instead used the army and further increased its dependency on the Janjaweed and other paramilitary formations to fight a proxy war on its behalf. To crush the rebels native base the government and its allies used scorched-earth tactics including aerial bombardment of civilian targets accompanied by joint ground assaults by the army and the Janjaweed. This policy is responsible for the large-scale and protracted displacement of people as it rendered 3.5 million people destitute as war-affected people and their livelihoods (including homes, schools, places of worships, medical centres etc) were systematically destroyed in whole or in part. By June 2004 it is believed that at least 2,600 villages inhabited by the African tribes of Darfur were totally or partially destroyed or burned down.


  The Janjaweed is a coined Arabic word used by the local people to refer to gangs of outlaws and robbers. These groups are usually composed of criminal elements from different nomad Arab tribes of the region. The Janjaweed who are uneducated and barely civilized individuals were manipulated and politicised by the present government and by racist organisations in the region such as the Arab Congregation and Gouresh Group to the extent that it could be argued that all the Janjaweed are Arabs; while not all the Arabs are Janjaweed. They acquired international fame when the government commenced drafting the nomad tribes in Darfur to fight a proxy war on its behalf against the SLA/M and JEM. The government took advantage of the Janjaweed lusts for destruction, theft and the nomad's need of rich pastureland and immediately started organising, arming and unleashing them on civilian areas inhabited by the Fur, Massaleet, Zaggawa and other African tribes of Darfur. The government reliance on the Janjaweed was a calculated attempt to break the backbone of the rebel movements in particular as the government lacks enough troops in Darfur. Another element that could have played a role on the government's dependency on the Janjaweed was the fact that the rank and files of the Sudanese army is dominated by men from Southern Sudan, Darfur and Kordofan. Some of the forces that were deployed in Darfur reportedly refused to fight their kinsmen, threw their arms and ran away from services.

  Although some whole Arab tribes in Darfur—especially those landless recent immigrant nomad tribes of Chad—have joined their ranks, the Janjaweed do not necessarily represent all the Arab tribes of Darfur especially those tribes who refused to take part in the government military policy to end the armed conflict in Darfur. The major nomad tribes that are known to be active within the Janjaweed ranks are those belonging to the nomads of Northern Darfur or Rezigat al-Shamal who are camel herders. These groups include the Ziadiyah, Mahariya or Mahameed, Um Jalool, Eriqat, and the Aiteifat. They also include groups such as Bani Hussein, Awlad Taqo, and Awlad Halim. In Western and Southern Darfur groups that took active part within the Janjaweed formation include some elements of Rezigat al-Janoub or cow herders as well as the Tarjam, Saada, Salamat, Awlad Rashid, Um Shishi, Shiteyah.

Some of the distinctively notorious Janajweed field commanders are (1) Musa Hilal, overall Janjaweed Commander from Mahameed nomads, (2) Abdallah Abu Shinebat, Mournay Area, (3) Omer Baboush, Habila and Furbranga area, (4) Omda Saif Ma'adi, Nirtiti area, (5) Ahmed Dikhairy, Mournay area and (6) Ahmed Abou Kamasha. Ranking officials in the government service that are believed to be part of the Janjaweed leadership are (1) Abdalla Ali Masar, Governor, River Nile State, (2) Abdulhamid Musa Kasha, Minister of Foreign Trade, (3) Gen Abdullah Ali Safi Al Noor, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, (4) Gen Suliman Abdullah Adam, Governor of West Darfur State, (5) Gen Hussein Abdullah Gibril, Member of Parliament. See annex one for a list of persons suspected of supporting the Janjaweed.[22]

  The irony of the Darfur crisis is that the people of the region both Africans and Arabs, have more common denominators than differences. With some few exceptions, all the tribal groups in Darfur developed complementary socio-cultural systems. All the people of the region practice Sunni Islam and many among them use Arabic as lingua franca. The Janjaweed are majority dark-skinned Arabised savannah Bedouins—whose immigrant ancestors intermarried with the indigenous African people of the region. In reality the Janjaweed share common idiosyncrasies and destiny with their victims more than with other Arabised tribes of the river Nile basin. In most occasions it could be difficult—for external observers—to draw clear distinctions between the Arab and African tribes of Darfur based on their physical appearance. This is because the differences between Arab and non-Arab groups in Darfur—as the case in other parts of Sudan—are based more on cultural and linguistic heritage rather than genealogy or physical anthropology. Indeed the word Sudan derives from the Arabic Bilaad-ul-Sud, which means "the land of blacks." However, the distinction between Arabs and Africans is real and very important to the Sudanese people. It has been used throughout Sudan's history by the Arabised tribes that inherited the country's colonial rulers as a means to maintain economic and political power in the hands of few elite tribes from the northern part of the country and exclude other groups from any benefits.


  Four interrelated factors played a major role in the deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Darfur region. These factors that need to be thoroughly addressed are the following:

  First: natural disasters that have hit the country—in particular drought and desertification experienced by Darfur in the 1980s—caused famine in some areas of the region and consequently it was followed by massive migration of people from the arid and semi-arid northern parts southward to the rich wetlands in the western, southern and central parts of the region. These areas are inhabited in majority by African agriculturalist tribes. Those affected by the famine and forced to move southward are nomad tribes. Movement of nomads and their settlement in areas occupied by sedentary groups brought new patterns of skirmishes and disputes over water sources and pasture.

  Second: Darfur has been neglected by successive national governments, which explains the lack of sound sustainable development projects to mitigate the negative effects of natural calamites and to meet the growing needs of thriving human and animal populations in a zone of ecological decline. Persistent neglect of the region and denial of the demands of its people for development and equality left a deep sense of exclusion and economic and political marginalization among the people of Darfur.

  Third: the deliberate policy of government to dismantle the well-established and historically preserved traditional leadership structures in Darfur. Traditional chieftains have played a cardinal role in organising the life of people and in solving intra and inter-communal disputes. These structures are especially important in regions where tribal allegiance is deep-rooted in the social and economic set-ups. Of particular concern was the government's decision in 1995 to embark on a geographic and administrative redemarcation programme in Darfur through which it replaced the historical chieftain system and its traditional title (Nazir) with a new system. They appointed pro-government elements as traditional leaders and gave them the title (Amir) to replace the old title. As a direct consequence of this policy the government delegated administrative powers and allocated land owned by the African tribes to the newly migrant nomad tribes in complete disregard to the traditional methods for the distribution of land or consideration for the serious protest of the original inhabitants of the land.

  Fourth: influx of large quantities of weapons in the region from neighbouring countries, the spread of racist doctrines such as the expansion of Al-Hizam Al-Arabi and the encouragement by the nomad groups of their kinsmen to emigrate from neighbouring Chad, Niger, Mauritania and other west African countries into Darfur. The cross-border immigration of nomads into the region still continues unabated and has been further consolidated by the ongoing conflict and the support and encouragement the immigrants receive from the national and regional governments.

  The combination of these four factors, in addition to the irrational interference of national and regional governments, led to the unprecedented culture of violence and ethnic hatred currently experienced by the region. The government policy has unequivocally fostered the present conspicuously polarised positions assumed by the two broad ethnic groupings that live in the region ie Arabs and Africans. Manipulation of ethnic differences as well as the biased behaviour of the national and regional governments against the indigenous African tribes of Darfur are the main reasons that the crisis reached the present stage where the conflict can no longer be considered as a tribal dispute generated by competition over a scarce natural resource base in a zone of ecological decline, but a coordinated strategy to do away with Darfur's indigenous African inhabitants because of their ethnic or tribal affiliation and to confiscate their land and wealth. In short two criminal aspects underlie the human tragedy in Darfur: viz (1) The premeditated mass killing and physical destruction—in whole or in part—of the agriculturalist African tribes of Darfur because of their tribal backgrounds; and (2) The appropriation of their land, the confiscation of their livestock and other material wealth (in some cases for extortion of money for protection by the Janjaweed militia groups) in the presence of government authority.


  In 2002 the conflict in Darfur reached new dimensions with a sharp increase in the number and intensity of the Janjaweed raids in different parts of the region and consequently an increase in the number of casualties among the indigenous African people. [23]In April-May 2002 concerted attacks by the nomad militiamen against the area of Kabkabiya and Jabal Marra Massive left 101 persons dead, more than 200 wounded and thousands of livestock rustled. The local people expressed fears that the escalation of attacks against their regions constitutes part of a concerted campaign to depopulate vast areas replacing the original inhabitants with the tribes of the invading militia groups. At least 38 villages in southern Darfur between Nyala and Jabal Marra have been forcefully evacuated of their original inhabitants during this period. For instance two villages known as Danga and Tambasi, situated at about 70km and 80km from Nyala respectively, inhabited by the Fur tribesmen for many centuries, are now being occupied by the invading nomad tribal groups. In a bid to conceal their real identity the two villages were renamed with Arabic names (Um Al-Gura and Um Dawan-Ban).

  On 11 September 2002, the Arabised tribes in southern Darfur held a Conference in Kass town under the auspices of the Commissioner of Kass Province Mr Gourashi Mohamed Abdalla. During the Conference the indigenous African tribes were especially singled out for abuse and accusation. They were labelled as pagans, disloyal and rebels to justify new and widespread aggressions against them. An unprecedented escalation of devastating attacks against areas inhabited by the indigenous African tribes followed the convening of this conference. Between 12 September 2002 and 30 September 2002 it was reported that many villages around Kass, Zalingei, Kabkabiya, Jabal Marra and Nyala were systematically attacked during this period. As a result of these attacks 30 persons were killed in the area surrounding Kass, an unknown number was injured and about 714 livestock were looted. In Zalingei province two persons were killed and about 600 livestock were looted. In Kabkabiya province 17 persons were killed, 12 were injured and five villages were burned to the ground. In Jabal Mara Massive 13 persons were killed including five soldiers. In Nyala 18 persons were killed including Police Major Bashier Frarah Khatam.

  The rampage in Darfur went hand in hand with a vicious campaign of intimidation, harassment, threat, vilification and accusation against the indigenous people by the local authorities, national media and even top government officials. Their strategy was to incriminate the African tribes in Darfur and label them as bandits, disloyal, pagans or potential SPLA/M elements in a bid to prepare the ground for a massive attack against them. On Saturday 2 November 2002 and during his official visit to Al-Fashir, capital city of Northern Darfur State, the First Vice-president of Sudan Mr Ali Osman Mohamed Taha warned the African tribes of Darfur of total destruction and that their areas will be "pulled backward for many years" if they join the rebel SPLA/M. These insensitive remarks, which came at the peak of the destruction of African villages in Darfur added insult to injury and were used by extremist elements within the Arab Congregation as additional fuel to recruit new fighters and throw them into the already burning situation in the region. The Vice-president's remarks provided a further cover for the massive attacks against the indigenous tribes witnessed by the region in November and December 2002.

  Information we gathered has indicated that in the period between 1 October 2002 and 31 January 2003 at least 160 indigenous African people in south-western Darfur have been killed, hundreds of villages were burnt and thousands of livestock, foodstuff and other material wealth were looted or destroyed. It should be underscored that the identified causalities were those of persons killed around the main towns of the region. This clearly indicates that many more persons killed in remote areas especially in north Darfur were not documented.

  Below is a brief description of the raids by government supported nomad militiamen during the last three months of 2002. These incidents, which were reported to human rights organisations in the year 2003, represent only a fraction of the number of incidents that were committed in the region during the same period and which were not accounted for.

    1.  On Tuesday, 31 December 2002 and again on 1, 2 and 3 January 2003, a number of armed Tarjam and Missiriya Jabal tribesmen attacked Sinkita village about 70 km to the west of Nyala town. In this massacre 25 persons were killed and more than 40 others were injured. Around 800 huts were burned to the ground in Sinkita and their inhabitants were rendered destitute without access to basic human needs such as food, shelter and medicine. Following theses attacks the security forces abducted four village leaders.

    2.  On Tuesday, 24 December 2002 militiamen attacked Dumma village to the north east of Nyala. They killed at least 12 persons and injured 20 others.

    3.  On Wednesday, 27 November 2002 militiamen attacked Tegueraiss village. They killed 11 persons and wounded eight others.

    4.  On Sunday, 24h November 2002 militiamen attacked the villages of Sabunogna, Turra and Mukgjar killing at least 20 persons and wounding 24 others and burned down more than 20 huts.

    5.  On Wednesday, 13 November 2002 a group of about 300 armed militiamen attacked a number of villages in Wadi Gounda to the north of Kass, including the villages of Elayba, Wastani and Shawa. In total they killed 15 persons including a pregnant woman from Elayaba (Ms Hanouna Abdalla Suliman). They injured 14 persons and burned down 33 houses.

    6.  On Wednesday, 9 October 2002 militiamen attacked a civilian convoy between Golo village in Jabal Mara and Nyala. They killed two persons including Mr Mohamed Ibrahim Musa, a 40-year old lawyer, and injured five others.

    7.  On Tuesday, 1 and Saturday, 5 October 2002 militiamen attacked Kidingeer village, 71 km to the north-west of Nyala town. They killed six persons and injured 10 others including women.

  Unlike other parts of Sudan, systematic human rights violations were committed against the indigenous tribes of Darfur by the security forces throughout the 1990s. These violations were committed under the disguise of combating robbery, banditry and outlaw activity. In reality since the present military government ascended onto power on 30 June 1989, the Darfur region has virtually been under a state of emergency regulations, which invested the security forces with unlimited powers to commit all sorts of human rights violations against the people of the region with complete immunity let alone impunity. Based on the state of emergency regulations a number of Special Courts were also established in the region to try persons suspected of committing criminal offenses and other activities including political opposition and pro-democracy activists. In 2001 alone eight such Special Courts were established in Darfur. Heavy sentences including death and cross-amputation were issued by these Special Courts within a matter of weeks and defendants were denied basic legal protection or assistance. According to the Minister of Justice Mr Ali M Osman Yassin, "the procedure adopted in Darfur was a hurried one" and that "cross-examination is lacking in these courts." [24]

  Early warning signals about the imminent military action from the indigenous African people to resist government complicity with the Janjaweed attempts to expel them from their land were made long before the eruption of the rebellion in Darfur. On 9 August 2002 and after a month of his arbitrary detention, a Sudanese lawyer from Darfur Mr Abdel-Wahid Mohamed Ahmed Nour issued an appeal from his detention cell in Zalingei, western Darfur, drawing the World's attention to his plight and the tragedy of his Fur clan. In February 2003 Mr Ahmed Nour led the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) and commenced the current armed rebellion against the government. For its revealing nature Mr Nour's appeal is reproduced below. [25]

    "I am making this appeal from my cell in Zalingei Security Forces detention centre. The cell is 16 sq meters and is overcrowded: there are 12 of us in this small room without ventilation or windows. Food is very scarce. I have only one lung and I am diabetic. When I was arrested I was suffering from Malaria. The security forces refused to allow me to see a doctor.

    I would also like to highlight the suffering of my Fur people. The security forces act with virtual immunity, terrorising the Fur people, raiding randomly and arresting people including the elderly and children and detaining them without charge or trial. Many have been subjected to torture. Many Fur men have fled to the mountains to find a safe haven and have left their lands. The Arab tribes attack their land, looting their properties and stealing their livestock. Many Fur villages have been completely deserted.

    I call upon the international community and human rights organisations to intervene to free us and protect the people of Darfur from the government aggression."

  The formation of the SLA/M was a desperate, uncalculated and unorganised attempt by the indigenous people who lost any confidence in the local and national governments to protect them. Although military action by the SLA/M started early in February 2003 it was only on 13 March 2003 that they were able to issue a political declaration that outlined its objectives. The declaration stated; "The brutal oppression, ethnic cleansing and genocide sponsored by the Khartoum Government left the people of Darfur with no other option but to resort to popular political and military resistance for purposes of survival." It added "The objective of the SLA/M is to create a united democratic Sudan on a new basis of equality, complete restructuring and devolution of power, even development, cultural and political pluralism and moral and material prosperity for all Sudanese."

  National response to the rebellion in Darfur can only be qualified as catastrophic. From the very beginning of the rebellion the government adopted a strategy of persistent denial of the grievances of the people of the region and considered their protest as a security threat to the government and the country. As such the government ruled out any possibility for a negotiated political solution of the conflict and decided to pursue a military campaign allowing the security forces carte blanche to commit all sorts of atrocities. It intensively used helicopters and Antonov warplanes to indiscriminately drop shrapnel-loaded barrel-bombs on civilian targets. Joint operations of the army and militiamen have wrecked havoc in Darfur. After aerial bombardments they cordon off villages to kill survivors, burn houses, dynamite wells, ruin agricultural produce, destroy schools, medical centres and deport people. This policy reached its peak in the first quarter of 2004. The government also employed a tactic of deception and blackout of information flow about the actual situation in the region. The government instructed national media not to report about the situation in Darfur under any circumstances as of Saturday, 3 May 2003. The instructions were relayed by phone on Wednesday, 31 April 2003 and Thursday, 1 May 2003, to the Chief Editors of all national newspapers in Khartoum. As a result of this policy copies of some dailies including Al-Sahafa, Al-Shari' Al-Siyasi and Khartoum Monitor were confiscated on different occasions.


  The result of the human tragedy in Darfur since the insurgency was declared in February 2003 to date is that at least two million persons, in particular members of the Fur, Massaleet and Zaggawa tribes, have become IDPs or refugees. IDPs live in precarious conditions in different locations in Darfur and also in other parts of Sudan mainly Khartoum, Gedaref and the Blue Nile States. The Fur people who constitute the majority of IDPs are the most affected victims of the crisis as their traditional areas in the Jabal Marra massive were severely affected by the fighting and blockades. The Fur areas are located away from Sudan's international borders as such few relief organisations were able to establish themselves in the area, consequently little relief material was delivered to the affected people in that part of Darfur. No one knows the exact figures of the innocent civilians who were killed since the destruction campaign started in the region or the number of those persons who are under imminent threat of death in the coming months. All the ingredients for a humanitarian disaster on a large scale are in place in the Darfur region.

  In addition to the growing refugee population in Chad other unaccounted for numbers of people from Darfur were forced to flee Sudan into other countries such as Libya, Central African Republic, Egypt, etc. Yet the ordeal of those persons forced to seek refuge abroad did not end by crossing international borders. There are documented incidents in which the army and Janjaweed militia groups have attacked refugees across the international borders in Chad territory killing some of them and looting their livestock and other belongings. Persons who seek refugee status and legal protection from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Libya and Egypt are facing serious difficulties. Most of these people are not provided with the necessary shelter, food and medication, which they are entitled to whether by the UNHCR or other humanitarian agencies. It seems that Khartoum was successful in convincing the UNHCR in Tripoli and Cairo, indeed through the authorities of these two countries, not to provide refugees from Darfur with legal protection or resettlement in third countries despite the genuine risk to the safety and personal security of most of these persons.

  The victims of the crisis in Darfur are not only confined to the unfortunate individuals who currently live in the region as IDPs or the refugees in Chad. Growing numbers of persons originating from Darfur, especially members of the African tribes who live in other parts of Sudan are affected by this conflict often for no reason other than their blood tie with the victims of the crisis in Darfur. Hundreds of people are summarily executed or held incommunicado in different parts of Sudan on suspicion of supporting or acting as a Fifth Column for the rebels of Darfur. The government is especially targeting influential community leaders, intellectuals and educated persons from Darfur in a massive campaign of arrest and dismissal from public services. The list of such targeted persons is long. It includes politicians, businessmen, scholars, students, army and security officers, human rights and pro-democracy activists as well as presumed combatants and supporters of the rebellion in Darfur. The government's dismissal and arrest campaigns did not even spare members of the ruling party and elected members of the National Assembly or Parliament who come from Darfur. All these people have had their lives shattered and the wellbeing of their families endangered. They need special material and psychological assistance.

  The government's horrendous spate of human rights violations unleashed against the people of Darfur is taking the form of an all-round economic war against individuals from the region such as the merchant class in Khartoum and Omdurman. Aggressive administrative measures through excessive taxation and excise duties have impoverished thousands of these merchants. Since May 2003 the government is conducting a secret security operation targeting the main market places in the suburbs of Khartoum and its twin cities Omdurman and Khartoum North where there is high concentration of merchants from Darfur. On 29 May 2003 the government launched a 3,000 man-strong military operation targeting Souk Libya and Souk Abu Zaid, which are two market places in the suburbs of Omdurman the national capital twin city. The security forces arbitrarily closed down shops, confiscated merchandise and arrested merchants. Since June 2003 the security forces routinely confiscate private wagons and trucks owned by individuals from Darfur anywhere in the country. They especially target four-wheel driven vehicles, which are widely used as means of transportation and interstate trade. [26]This ban is especially harmful to the people of the region due to unavailability of asphalted roads or railways network as well as the vast areas of desert or semi-desert that cannot be easily crossed with other types of vehicles. This measure was tremendously devastating on the lives of these merchants and their households, as most of them have lost their only property and means of existence. No compensation whatsoever has been paid to those individuals who have had their properties confiscated.

  Since the second half of 2003, the government is conducting a massive campaign of demolition of houses in the poor residential areas in the environs of Khartoum and Omdurman, which are inhabited by an overwhelming majority of people from Darfur, Southern and Western Sudan. These people were displaced from their original homes by the situation of insecurity prevailing in their war-devastated regions. Some of these people lived in the targeted areas for over 10 years. Demolition is conducted at short notice and without financial compensation or alternative accommodation. By the end of October 2004, thousands of families were left without shelter in El Salama and Soba al-Arradi squatter areas (South Khartoum) as well as El-Salaam and Wad el-Bashier IDPs camps in (North Omdurman) where massive demolition activities have started earlier in the year. More than 5,000 households in el-Saliheen and el-Sareeha squatter areas are also made homeless in October 2004. Some 300 IDPs in Soba Arradi have so far been arbitrarily denied allocation of plots of land. In addition, 17,500 households, who were entitled to plots in Wad el-Bashier and El Salaam camps and in El-Saliheen and El-Sareeha squatter areas, have been waiting without shelter since their houses were demolished during March-July 2004.

  This policy is expected to increase the number of homeless IDPs in Khartoum manifold. The winter season is approaching and most IDPs now live in precarious conditions without shelter, food or hope. Poverty and unemployment compounded with poor health services and sanitation continue to aggravate the living conditions of IDPs in these areas with serious threats to the health of vulnerable age groups like children and the elderly. The government claims that this measure is intended to redemarcate the area and provide legal titles to its dwellers. However, the amount of land fees asked from the IDPs is so extortionate and excessive that they can hardly afford the required fees. It is reported that government's agents are active in the area persuading IDPs to sell their land titles for small amounts of money and consequently relinquish their rights to own the land. Many IDPs were already forced to do so and moved elsewhere in the country. The affected people believe that the whole plan is a security measure to expel them from Khartoum as they are considered potential supporters of the Darfur rebellion.

  The living conditions of people trapped in the rebels' held territory is bleak. The rebels, both the SLA/M and JEM, are believed to be in control of a vast area in the three States that constitute the Greater Darfur Region. Because of the nature of the guerrilla military operations in the region geographic boundaries of the area under rebel control are mobile and consequently the number of people they cater for is subject to constant change. In the northern parts of Darfur most of the Zaggawa nomads have voluntarily moved for protection to areas controlled by the rebels. These groups seem to be self-sufficient as they depend for food on their cattle produce. In the Jabal Marra massive we find the largest concentration of people under rebel-held territory. These people who mainly belong to the Fur tribe are relatively secure as the high mountains represent a natural barrier against the Janjaweed attacks. Yet they are in dire need of relief assistance as they usually depend on fruit trees and other agricultural produce to supplement their food. The Jabal Marra massive is under tight siege both from the government and some rebel factions in the north and therefore the people in this area have very little access to relief material. In the rich southern parts of Darfur the situation is relatively better as the people there still have some of their old production systems intact. It should be noted that in all rebel-controlled areas there are no operational systems of civil administration, law enforcement, public order or accountability. Although military operations by the rebels are mainly against the army and the Janjaweed militia, it was recently reported that they have killed and abducted individuals from the nomad tribes, obstructed relief work and confiscated vehicles.


  After many wake-up calls the reluctance, indifference, inaction and lack of knowledge about the plight of the people of Darfur that characterised the world's reaction throughout 2003 finally started to fade away since April 2004. At present the situation is increasingly becoming the focus of attention of political decision-makers in many parts of the world. Thanks to the influx of more than two hundred thousands of refugees across Sudan's international borders. The plight of the people of Darfur was also made public by efforts of UN agencies and other human rights and humanitarian organisations that documented the atrocities in the region and seized attention of the international community. The current vigilance was manifested by visits of heavyweight regional and international personalities to Sudan, Darfur and the eastern parts of Chad to oversee the situation of IDPs and Refugees and ask the government to do more to end the violence. Personalities that conducted such visits included Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Alpha Oumar Konaré, UK Premier Tony Blair, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the EU Foreign Policy Chief Mr Javier Solana as well as a host of other top politicians from Western Europe and other corners of the world. Darfur was also present during the first debate in the US presidential elections on 9th October 2004 when both President Bush and his challenger Senator Kerry agreed that it is a genocide that needs to be stopped.

  The dangerous nature of the crisis in Darfur provoked many world political leaders to voice their serious concerns about the situation on different occasions. On 7 April 2004 the UN Secretary General expressed a deep sense of "foreboding" about the crisis in Darfur and called on the international community to prepare itself for intervention in Sudan—including military intervention—to save the lives of the people in the region. In a joint statement issued at the conclusion of their annual summit on 10 June 2004, leaders of the Group of Eight industrialised countries (G-8) expressed concern about the situation in Darfur. The statement, which was full of compassion and solidarity with the plight of the people of Darfur, underscored the ". . . continuing reports of gross violations of human rights, many with an ethnic dimension . . ." They appealed to the international community to help end the crisis in Darfur by stating that: "We look to the United Nations to lead the international effort to avert a major disaster and will work together to achieve this end." Furthermore, leaders of the G-8 pledged their ". . . countries' assistance in ending the conflicts in Sudan and in providing humanitarian aid to those in need." The statement rightly emphasised the importance of a negotiated solution that tackles the root causes of the humanitarian crisis in the region by calling on ". . . the conflict parties to address the roots of the Darfur conflict and to seek a political solution." Once again, at the conclusion of their Summit on 18 June 2004, leaders of the 25 nation-strong European Union expressed deep concern about the crisis in Darfur.

7.1  Regional and International Intervention

  Regional and international intervention into the Darfur tragedy has assumed two interrelated tracks viz (i) provision of humanitarian assistance and ii) initiation of political dialogue between the government of Sudan and its opponents in Darfur. Both the humanitarian and political tracks did not generate the required results for a number of reasons. The world did not invest in efforts to address the crisis in Darfur throughout 2003 for fear that confrontation with Sudan over Darfur will thwart the Naivasha process that promises to end Sudan's 20-year old war in the South. Political negotiations did not start until heavy pressure from the world community forced the warring factions to sit at the negotiation table in Abuja (Nigeria) in August 2004. The provision of life-saving relief material to the needy people in Darfur still faces serious impediments. Lack of security and the government's policy to hinder delivery of relief material especially during the first 15 months of the conflict were the main obstacles encountered. Another dimension was the reluctance of the donor community to provide the necessary financial means to the UN and its specialised agencies to enable them procure the necessary relief material and deliver it to the needy people in the region. As a direct result of these obstacles, the lack of food, medicine and other necessities have developed into silent wholesale killers in vast rural areas of the region especially in the Jabal Marra massive where the affected Fur people have not received relief material until recently.

7.2  The UN Security Council

  Action of the UN Security Council represents the legal basis for the response and eventual intervention of the international community in the Darfur crisis. On 25 May 2004 the UN Security Council adopted Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2004/18) endorsing the report of the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Although such a Statement has no mandatory power in the same sense as a Security Council Resolution, it has set the tone for action to follow. Despite the pressing situation it was only in July 2004 that the UN Security Council moved forward with the adoption of Resolution 1556/2004 followed by Resolution 1564/2004, which was adopted in September 2004. Both the two mandatory Resolutions were adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter implying that the situation in Darfur is a threat to international peace and security and that the international community could adopt mandatory punitive measures against the government of Sudan if it failed to put an end to the ongoing violence. It is to be noted that both Resolutions 1556/2004 and 1564/2004 placed shared obligations on the warring parties to allow relief convoys unfettered access to the region, cooperate with the AU mediation efforts and respect their ceasefire and other commitments. They also asked the government to ameliorate the security situation in the region by dismantling the Janjaweed and apprehending and bringing to justice the leaders. However, the Resolutions did not yield the required results within so far as both the warring parties especially the government of Sudan quietly refused to comply with their provisions.

  On Tuesday 26 October 2004 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1569/2004 in which it decided to hold a series of special meetings on Sudan in Nairobi on 18 and 19 November 2004. The agenda for these meetings will include "The Reports of the Secretary-General on the Sudan" and discussions with AU and IGAD officials on diplomatic efforts underway to bring peace to Sudan. The forthcoming Security Council's meetings are the last chance for the region of Darfur to remain intact. Warning signals about imminent complete anarchy in Darfur, which were aired on Thursday 4 November 2004 by the Special Representative of UN Secretary General on Sudan Mr Jan Pronk, should be taken very seriously if the world community is to avert another Somalia from reproducing itself in Darfur. In Mr Pronk's words "The government does not control its own forces fully." "The border lines between the military, the paramilitary and the police are being blurred," and that within the rebel SLA/M and JEM "There are splits. Some commanders provoke their adversaries by stealing, hijacking and killing, some seem to have begun acting for their own private gain." [27]At the UN Security Council, western European countries and other like-minded nations are assuming a clear position against Sudan's handling of the crisis in Darfur and therefore all the hopes of the people of the region rest with their resolve and persuasion. The USA and the UK are taking the lead in urging the Council to adopt meaningful measures against Khartoum yet they have refrained from taking any concrete unilateral action to protect the people on the ground despite the declaration of the US Executive and Legislative that acts of genocide were committed in Darfur. Members of the Council from the Arab and Islamic Worlds as well as Russia and China are lagging behind to varying degrees in their support of Khartoum's policies in Darfur.

  China, which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has played an amoral role in escorting Sudan free from effective international action. By and large, China bears the prime responsibility for the weak response of the international community to the crisis in Darfur by watering-down language in the draft US-sponsored Resolutions at the Security Council that envisaged punitive measures against Sudan if it failed to comply with its obligations and end the violence in the region. It has even threatened to wield its Veto power. China's conscienceless stand is driven by its own political and economic interests in Sudan rather than the suffering of the people of Darfur. It is protecting its investment in Sudan especially its 40% stake in Sudan's growing oil industry, including refineries, pipelines and import of crude oil. As such reference to Sudan's oil industry at the Security Council was largely considered as a threat not only against Sudan but also against countries like China, France, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and others that have oil interests in Sudan. Chinese companies are complicit in the depopulation of vast areas in southern Sudan to clear the way for oil exploration activities. In addition China's oil purchases have enabled Sudan to buy arms from Beijing and other sources thus fuelling the violence in Darfur.

7.3  The African Union (AU)

  Actions of the 3rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government as well as those of the Peace and Security Council are the basis for the AU political and military interventions in the Darfur crisis. [28]In fact the newly created AU Peace and Security Council started its work in May 2004 with the adoption of a resolution on the situation in Darfur. The involvement of the AU in the political mediation efforts as well as their pioneer role in the protection of civilians is especially important because of the dangerous nature of the crisis. Involvement of the AU in the Darfur conflict also better serves the geopolitical interests of the government of Sudan thus it is their preferred option. This explains why the government continues to hinder attempts of the international community to extend a helping hand to end this humanitarian crisis. Africa has its own fears since on numerous occasions the Janjaweed and the Sudanese army have conducted cross-border military operations inside Chad territory. It was reported that military tension in the eastern regions of Chad is on the increase and it is most likely that Chad rebels may start their own military operations in the region, which threatens the fragile socio-political system in that country. It is, therefore, of great concern that the conflict in Darfur is posing serious threat to peace and security in Chad and the whole region especially as the Janjaweed are increasingly forging military links with their kinsmen in Chad. In an interview with the UN Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), on Thursday 17 June 2004, Mr Ahmad Allami, Personal Advisor of President Idriss Deby and Chief Mediator in the Darfur peace talks, said that: "The Janjaweed are recruiting elements in Chad. These are exclusively Arabs. This situation risks degenerating into an inter-ethnic war between a coalition of Arabs and other ethnic groups in the region."

  After some hiccups the first round of meaningful political talks under the AU auspices commenced in Abuja (Nigeria) on 23 August 2004. However, pressure on the warring factions to agree on a negotiated solution of the conflict has not yielded the desired result so far. The government continues to consider the armed conflict in Darfur as an internal security threat and rejects the demands and grievances put forward by the rebel SLA/M and JEM. Notwithstanding its bilateral talks with the SLA/M and JEM, the government insists on the convening of an All Darfur Conference. This is an attempt to strip the rebel groups of political legitimacy to represent the people of Darfur and eventually maintain the status quo. As such there seems little prospect of progress despite the successful conclusion of the second round of talks in Abuja and the signing on Tuesday 9 November 2004 of a series of breakthrough agreements touching on security and humanitarian issues. There is hope that more efforts will be done to ensure that these measures are respected and negotiations for a comprehensive political solution for a lasting end of the crisis will be achieved. We are persuaded to admit that only mounting pressure from the international community—placing more and more emphasis on the political nature of the crisis and the need for a negotiated solution of the conflict—could speed up the process for political negotiations to end the crisis.

  On 19 October 1994 the AU agreed to upgrade its team of 150 ceasefire monitors in Darfur that are backed by a 300-strong protection force into a full-scale military force of about 3,320 men with an extended mandate to protect humanitarian operations and deter armed groups from attacking civilians. However, key questions about the expanded operation remain unanswered. One of the questions that need answer was the extension of the mandate of the AU force from providing security for observers to protecting civilians. Communiqué PSC/PR/Comm.(XVII) adopted by the Peace and Security Council on 20 October 2004 and which organises the deployment of additional AU troops dramatically, failed to make a clear and unambiguous language on this important subject. It speaks about "protecting civilians whom it encounters under imminent threat and in the immediate vicinity, with resources and capability, it being understood that the protection of the civilian population is the responsibility of the GoS."

  On the other hand efforts of the AU to send troops to Darfur are crippled partly by the lack of necessary financial means and logistical support[29] but also because of Khartoum's manoeuvring within the AU institutions especially the Peace and Security Council. Khartoum diplomacy was successful in slowing down the AU efforts and could render them meaningless despite the international unanimity of opinion that the presence of AU peacekeepers will have salutary effects on the victims of the conflict. This is due to the fact that the rebel SLA/M and JEM were not represented during meetings of the AU Peace and Security Council and also because interested civil society groups were not present to influence the process. [30]It also seems that Western European countries including the UK are not investing enough energy for lobbying with members of the AU to ensure that the valid concerns of the international community as manifested in UN Security Council Resolutions 1556/2004 and 1564/2004 are fully and unambiguously taken into account by the AU Peace and Security Council during their consideration of the Darfur issue. What is urgently needed in the region is a resourceful and strong internationally supported force of at least 50,000 troops and support service in order to effectively protect the more than two million IDPs and refugees and ensure their safe return to their original villages. Any other measures that fall short of providing sound security and restoring the rule of law in Darfur simply means that the IDPs and refuges are confined to living in their present camps indefinitely while their victimization and harassment continue.

7.4  Humanitarian Intervention

  The dramatic unfolding of the Darfur crisis has taken the international community especially the donor agencies with surprise. It seems that no government or international agency could have imagined the level of destruction and humanitarian need experienced by the region within the first nine-month period since the rebellion started in February 2004. This perhaps explains the inadequate response of the international community to the appeals for humanitarian assistance made by the UN and some of its specialized agencies to provide relief material to the needy people in Darfur. The Sudan Assistance Programme (ASAP) of the UN consolidated appeal for Sudan for 2004, which was estimated at about US$ 639 million has generated less than one third of the required funds. The UN Donor Conference on Darfur held in Geneva on Thursday, 3 June 2004 appealed for US$ 236 million to aid the more than two million people affected by the conflict in Darfur. In response donor nations made pledges of only US$ 126 million. Another equally important aspect was the lack of knowledge and information about the level of destruction in the region and the needs of its people. This is due mainly to the policy of information blackout so maliciously imposed by the Khartoum regime on the news from Darfur throughout 2003. The involvement of development agencies in a coordinated effort to meet the humanitarian needs of the internally displaced persons and refugees should be further consolidated not only by the provision of financial means but also by knowledge of the situation and other political and organisational measures.

  As the world is still under the shock of the level of destruction of live and livelihood in Darfur and its inability to put a halt to the ongoing carnage, it is all too natural that most available resources are mainly devoted to meeting the immediate humanitarian needs. As such very little attention was devoted to strategic thinking or critical investment in future plans to help the people rebuild their destroyed lives in the post-crisis phase. Strategic thinking and eventually the designing of practical policies and plans to rebuild the region and rehabilitate its people are very crucial at this stage in particular when such efforts target to fill the existing gap of policy research and documentation. Strategic thinking and documentation are indispensable for informed decisions that are expected to play a cardinal role in generating the appropriate political solutions for the conflict. Such thinking should address, but not be limited to, the questions of the political, institutional, developmental, economic, social, ethnic, racial, religious and cultural dimensions of the crisis. It is also necessary to ensure a broad and effective mobilisation of the region's material and human resources to treat the effects of the tragedy on the lives of people in the post-conflict phase and also to help mitigate the negative effects of the damage done to the social fabric as well as to live and livelihood in the region. At present it is understandable that there is no sound advocacy campaigns to educate the victims of the conflict and the people of the region and Sudan in general about their rights and duties or the moral values of accountability, responsibility, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation. Yet it is time to undertake the spadework and erect appropriate organs. Such a project can be done more effectively with the involvement of local people and their independent civil society organisations that are part and parcel of the culture and tradition of the region and its people.

  The present negotiations both on the political arena and those on the humanitarian and security issues are essentially conducted between the government of Sudan and the rebel groups to the exclusion of other equally important actors in the region. Some segments of the people of Darfur—those targeted by the campaign of destruction of life and livelihood—and their representative civil society structures and organisations are not fully accommodated in the ongoing process. Inability of these social actors to contribute their knowledge and expertise during the negotiations, indicate that they will, indeed, be absent or ineffective in shaping their role in the post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction phase. Perhaps the most visible absentee victim group were women. This happens despite the fact that women are ubiquitously present as the first and foremost victims of the current conflict and will be present as pawns in the post-conflict phase yet they are conspicuously sidelined in the decision-making process. This is true as far as the negotiations for a settlement of the conflict are concerned, and by consequence during the post-conflict rebuilding phase. As far back as the UN Women's Conference held in Nairobi in 1985, UN member State affirmed that: "equality is important for development and peace because national and global inequities perpetuate themselves and increase tensions of all types." While it is obvious that the conflicting parties will not prefer engaging some of the absentee stakeholders it could be helpful if the international community places some emphasis on the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach that engage and mobilise some key indigenous partners to help resolve the crisis in Darfur.


  The UK government was among the first external powers to gain a clear understanding of the real situation in Darfur. Since the end of 2003 the UK government became aware of the destruction that has been taking place in Darfur through its diplomatic mission in Khartoum. In fact a UK national (Mr Mukesh Kapila) was the first person that dared to break the taboo about the situation in Darfur when he publicly voiced his concern about the nature of the crisis and sent out a strong warning signal to the world community by describing the situation as ethnic cleansing, drawing a link with the early days of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. He described the situation in Darfur in clear words stating that: "This is ethnic cleansing, this is the world's greatest humanitarian crisis, and I don't know why the world isn't doing more about it." [31]As the former colonial power that annexed the independent Sultanate of Darfur to present-day Sudan in the beginning of the twentieth century, the UK government and its people must be in a unique position of moral responsibility towards the plight of the people of Darfur. This explains the UK's candid engagement with the crisis in Darfur. The UK was the first world power to take the bold stand of threatening Khartoum with the deployment of British troops in Darfur when the head of the UK Army[32] declared late in July 2004 that a brigade of 5,000 British soldiers could be sent to the violence-wracked Darfur region of Sudan at very short notice. The UK bold position was also translated into the fact that Britain was the only country that has dispatched two of its top political decision-makers to Sudan to raise their concerns about the situation in Darfur and ask the government of Sudan to do more to end the crisis and ameliorate the situation. [33]These trips were successful in conveying a decisive message to Sudan from the international community that it must comply with its obligations as a State member of the United Nations and honour its commitments to the international community and put an end to the violence in the region. These visits were concrete steps that gave more weight to Britain's involvement in the Darfur crisis and indirectly helped save innocent lives by making the government of Sudan honour its promise to allow more AU troops to deploy to Darfur, and most importantly persuading the government to accept the security and humanitarian protocols that were signed in Abuja (Nigeria) on Tuesday 9 November 2004. No doubt that such efforts would eventually help regain peace in Darfur and should therefore continue.

  The UK diplomacy also played an important role in building up and maintaining the ongoing momentum about the crisis in Darfur within the EU and the UN institutions. The UK is part of the team of "international facilitators" that helps bridge differences during the political negotiations between the government and the rebel movements. Although the British government and legislatives declined to join the US Congress and Administration in accusing Sudan of committing acts of genocide in Darfur, it has backed the US-sponsored resolutions on Sudan that were adopted by the UN Security Council in July and September 2004. On the question of genocide it seems that the UK government has left confirmation of the commission of this crime to the UN investigators. However, it is time for the UK government to conduct its own appraisal of the situation and come to a conclusion on this issue. On the humanitarian field the British government ranks among the largest donors for relief operations in Darfur. Added to the official government efforts there is an army of UK-based charity organisations now active on the ground in Darfur and eastern Chad providing live-saving relief material to the affected IDPs and refugees. Britain allocated £62.5 million or the equivalent of ($112 million) in aid to Sudan in the year 2004.

  The extraordinary efforts of the UK government in helping the Sudanese people come out of their current impasse should not over look some important political and social aspects of the crisis that engulfs the country. These aspects are at the heart and origin of the current crisis, which the UK decision-makers should take on board if they are to leave a lasting imprint on the country's future course. The Sudanese elite that inherited the rule of the country from its British colonial rulers in 1956 have built a structurally deformed system designed to serve their own vested interests and the interests of certain ethnic groups to whom they belong. This elite group, which represents less than 40% of the country's population, has imposed a self-proclaimed totalitarian Arab-centric cultural vision in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious country. [34]Such an ideology that strips Sudan's African population of their indigenous heritage and identity is the breeding ground for exploitation, discrimination, social injustice and unrest, destruction and instability with costly human, economic and financial implications. These hitherto taboo subjects in Sudan's political discourse must be addressed with courage and determination for the sake of unity as well as peace and security not only in Sudan but also in neighbouring African countries that are likely to experience the same tragic fate in the future. Any other measures that fall short of looking at these realities and treat their root causes will remain an attempt to address the symptom while leaving the disease uncured. This is the only way to enable Sudan achieve—as envisaged in the Machakos Protocols—a comprehensive solution that replaces war not just with peace, but also with social, political and economic justice which respects the fundamental human and political rights of the Sudanese people.


  The human rights and humanitarian crisis in Darfur is an integral part of Sudan's overall failed system of governance fostered by unwise State policy that manipulates ethnic and tribal differences to maintain political and economic power in the hands of the Arabised groups of the country. The crisis is not only the result of conflict between Africans and Arabs over the control of scare natural resources in a zone of ecological decline but the creation of the government which has manipulated the nomad tribes on racial and cultural grounds. The situation witnessed this tragic unfolding when the government chose to accord its full military, political, diplomatic and economic backing to the nomad tribes of the region. Such a discriminatory policy is dangerous as it represents a breeding ground for social unrest, hatred and mistrust among the diverse ethnic groups that have co-existed in the region for many centuries.

  The people of Darfur share common denominators such as the practice of Sunni Islam, a relatively homogenous social behaviour and the use of Arabic as lingua franca. The unprecedented mass killings, pillage of resources, destruction of livelihood as well as the abduction, gang rape of women and other crimes committed against the African tribes have left deep scars on the consciousness of their victims. In light of the complicated tribal nature of Darfur, the armed conflict and revenge in the region are expected to continue for some years to come. This painful fact should be addressed with determination, zeal and courage before it engulfs other parts of the country. This reality is especially imminent if there is no profound change in the declared policy and the actual practice of national and regional governments. Relentless pursuance of draconian religious and cultural policies in a volatile multi-ethnic and multi-cultural region has inevitably injected hitherto effectively controlled violent dimensions into the current conflict. Potential manifestation of similar violence cannot be ruled out in Darfur in particular as the region still experiences a fragile ecology, ethnic manipulation, a quasi-absence of infrastructure and where the traditional chieftain structure has been virtually dismantled.

  The Janjaweed have the ability and potential to continue a long-term destruction campaign in the region for a number of reasons. They have developed a full-blown racist mentality, a sustained warrior culture, vast knowledge of the region and its people, abundant sophisticated weapons, suitable means of transport and communication and most importantly the full backing of the state security apparatus. They are motivated by their pathological desire to destroy life, looting and war-booty, which they easily conduct with complete impunity. As such it will be a real challenge to bring an end to the conflict in Darfur—a region the size of France—even if there is strong political will among the international community to do so. This should not be inferred as an invitation for the international community not to act. To the contrary, it should be an additional inducement for all of us to face the challenge and find additional means to do a lethal blow to this growing crisis.

  The current relief efforts in Darfur have focused on getting life-saving and other emergency relief material to refugees in eastern Chad and also to the IDPs inside Darfur. Beside providing emergency relief material to the needy, the main objective of the international engagement with Darfur should be to get the political negotiations onto a speedy track that sets out measures conducive to the safe return of IDPs and refugees to their original homes where they can restart normal life, take care of their needs and end the growing external aid dependency syndrome. Only at home do these unfortunate victims have a better chance of survival. Protracted exposure of these victims to insalubrious, congested and to insecure conditions in IDP camps and refugee centres is a recipe for death, despair and hopelessness let alone meeting the exorbitant and painful international protection and relief operations. No efforts were made to address the root causes of the crisis through political or intellectual exercise. While providing life-saving relief material to the needy is meritorious, yet what good it makes to concentrate on relieving the symptom rather than treating the disease. The multifaceted crisis faced by the people of Darfur is a chronic structural crisis that requires a combined pool of political and scientific solutions in order to address it effectively. Political neglect, social injustice, uneven distribution of wealth and the associated underdevelopment, socio-economic exclusion as well as marginalisation are at the root of the current crisis. In this regard we can conclude that one of the most effective ways of resolving the problems faced by Africa's war-devastated country was through political and economic empowerment of the underprivileged regions to be conducted through a sound affirmative action programme protected by legal guarantees.

  It is to be emphasised that the end of the security dilemma in Darfur and the associated destruction of facilities signify the beginning of ardent work to rebuild the destroyed social-fabric and livelihood of the people of the region. Equally important are efforts to restore the lost confidence and trust between the different ethnic groups in the region. The return of peace and tranquillity should also signify the beginning of sincere and concerted efforts to bring a fresh start to the destroyed socio-economic systems and to reorganise the relationships along the lines of the respect of democratic participation, good governance, prevalence of justice and the rule of law as well as advocacy of the concepts of tolerance and peaceful co-existence between the different tribal groups that live in the country without prejudice or discrimination. To help realise these objectives civic and human rights education should be one of the major programmes to be embarked upon as a matter of priority. High moral values of non-violence, non-discrimination and the respect of diversity should be the centre of future initiatives. Such an educational programme cannot be effectively implemented unless it is introduced in a long-term process that necessitates the involvement of different partners including local, regional and national governments, UN agencies and NGOs in a spirit of partnership and cooperation.

  In this regard it is necessary that the framework for a comprehensive multi-disciplinary development plan for Darfur be initiated as a matter of priority. The plan should be incorporated into the final peace arrangement and that its implementation commences as soon as the situation returns to normality. Such initiative should be supported not only by the warring factions but also by the regional and international development partners. Timely preparations for such a policy stems from the unsatisfactory political and humanitarian response of the international community to the crisis in Darfur. It is obvious that the combination of lack of knowledge about the crisis and the region as well as the absence of genuine local structures or mechanisms to be integrated into the work of governments, relief organisations, agencies and other actors involved in the Darfur crisis clearly indicate that effective intervention in the region needs solid future perspective to regain peace and prevent the recurrence of such a humanitarian crisis. The prevalence of peace and tranquillity in the region will effectively alleviate or reduce the current need for costly military protection missions and the endless humanitarian relief operations in the region.

  However, it should be underscored that the people of Darfur, Africans and Arabs alike, have no other option but to live together in the region and to accommodate each other. They are the only real guarantee for lasting peace and tranquillity in the region. The warring factions need a kind but firm helping hand to assist them to come out of the current situation. Assistance from the international community, therefore, is much needed at this dangerous juncture of the region's history. The high moral values of tolerance and peaceful co-existence between the different groups of people inhabiting the region should be inculcated in the coming generations. These values were the rule and norm in the past and should be restored and preserved for the future generations. Under the circumstances the government of Sudan should work out a nation-rebuilding plan that advocates a culture of peace, tolerance and reconciliation as a matter of top priority in its national agenda. A nation-rebuilding plan should be supported by comprehensive sustainable development strategy and socio-economic projects in the region. This is the only way to ensure that the negative effects of natural calamities in the region were mitigated without being used by warmongers to advocate violence.

  An important component in the rebuilding process would be the establishment of strong, independent and effective native civil society organs to help the international community as well as national social actors—including the antagonistic parties—in their efforts to end the crisis and assist the people of Darfur in restoring their shattered lives. The ultimate objective should be empowering the victims of atrocities in Darfur to further mobilise regional and international public opinions to help them in their plight.

November 2004

13   Some parts of this Study were partially drawn from the DRDC's Paper entitled Background Information and Area of Concern issued in July 2004. Back

14   According to the United Nations Population Fund, Sudan's population in 2003 is estimated at about 28,363,000. These figures exclude the war-torn regions of Southern Sudan. Back

15   It should be understood that some Zurga like Zagawa and Medoub were largely herders (camel herders) and many Fur mixed farming with herding (cattle). Back

16   Gunnar Haalan (1969), in Ethnic Groups and Boundaries, Fredrick Barth (ed), pp 53-73. Back

17   It was rare to find in this part of the region a Fur or a Bani Halba identifying her/himself as a Fur or Bani Halba only without adding that but one of my parents is Bani Halba or a Fur. Back

18   The Fallata and Gimir are black African tribes. Their classification as Arabs is based on the self-identification of these groups as Arabs in recent history and since the current Arab-centric regime took over control of the country in a coup d'etat in June 1989. Back

19   In 1988 the representatives of about 13 Arab tribes in Darfur met came together and formed what is known as the Arab Congregation. This is a racist organisation. Although their declaration issued in 1988 addressed some political demands but their hidden agenda aims at driving the original inhabitants of the region from their rich homelands and replacing them with nomads that are being affected by drought and desertification. Members of this organisation advocated war against all the Blacks or non-Arab populations in the region. Since then the organisation has been actively lobbying for official financial and political backing from the central government and political parties to support their cause in the region. So far they have been successful in both objectives. Two of the current governors of the three States of Darfur are from the Arab tribes. The Secretary General of this organisation Mr Abdalla Ali Masar is the Governor of the Nile Valley State or (Wilyat Nahar El Nil) in northern Sudan. Other prominent members of this organisation hold Ministerial Portfolios such as the Minister of External Trade, Mr Abdulhamid Musa Kasha, General Abdallah Safi Al Nour, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs etc. Back

20   Some but not all the indigenous African groups that live in the region are the Fur, Zaggawa, Bergid, Dajou, Bigo, Berti, Tunjur, Hawara, Bagirma, Hawssa, Burgo, Burno, Binga, Kara, Massaleet, Areigna and Abudareg. On 18 December 2003 the representatives of these tribes signed a document affirming their rights in the region in response to the document that the Arab Alliance signed on 15 November of the same year. Back

21   On 22 July 2004 both Chambers of the U.S. Congress adopted concurrent resolutions condemning the continuing atrocities in Darfur as "genocide" and asking the international community to join with the United States to help bring an end to the humanitarian catastrophe that is under way there. The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version (House Concurrent Resolution 467) in a vote of 422-0, with the U.S. Senate approving its version (Senate Concurrent Resolution 133) by voice vote. Back

22   Not printed. Back

23   See Annex One for a brief description of some incidents, which involved large-scale human rights violations that were documented during the last three months of the year 2002. [Not printed] Back

24   Declaration of the Minister of Justice in a meeting with Mr Gerhart Baum, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan held in Khartoum in March 2003. For more details see the Report of the Special Rapporteur to the 59th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/2003/42) dated 6 January 2003, page 17. This document can be consulted at the Webpage Back

25   This transcript was a translation from Arabic of the appeal issued by attorney Abdel-Wahid Mohamed Ahmed Nour on 9 August 2002. Back

26   See Albayan Arabic Daily Newspaper dated 26 May 2003. Back

27   Report of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Sudan Mr Jan Pronk to the UN Security Council in a briefing held in New York on Thursday, 4 November 2004 on Secretary-General Kofi Annan's monthly report to the Security Council on the situation in the war-torn region. Comments can be consulted at Back

28   Decision AU/Dec.54 (III) adopted by the 3rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa 6-8 July 2004 as well as Communique« PSC/PR/Comm.(XIII) and PSC/PR/Comm.(XVII) adopted by the AU Peace and Security Council at its 13th Meeting on 17 July and its 17th meeting on 20 October 2004 respectively. Back

29   To secure logistics, support services and other provisions the AU has to resort to the international donor community. By the beginning of November 2004 the AU sources indicated that out of the estimated US$ 221 million to meet the cost of deploying the AU troops in Darfur the international community pledged only US$ 114.9. Back

30   Unlike other similar institutions, the AU Peace and Security Council allows interested African civil society organisations and groups directly concerned to contribute during the proceeding of its meetings and provide unbinding ideas and proposals. Back

31   Mr Mukesh Kapila, then Humanitarian Coordinator and UN Resident Representative in Sudan, BBC Interview on the situation in Darfur, 19 March 2004. Back

32   Comment by General Sir Michael Jackson, Head of the British Army, BBC News, 24's Hardtalk Programme in which he said "If need be, we will be able to go to Sudan," adding that: "I suspect we could put a brigade together very quickly indeed." See the Guardian Unlimited (,14658,1268219,00.html). Back

33   On 6 October 2004 UK Premier Tony Blair paid a one-day visit to Khartoum on his way to Addis Ababa during which he met with President Omar El-Bashier and other top government officials. The visit of Mr Blair was preceded by a visit by Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Jack Straw, who went to Khartoum and Darfur in the period 23-24 August 2004. Back

34   According to the Population of Sudan: Ethnic Census of 1956-which was the only ethnic census conducted in the country to date-"The population of Sudan consists of: 39% Arabs 30% Southerners 13% Westerners, 6% each for Nuba and Beja, 3% each for the Nubians and for Foreigners and Miscellaneous. These figures are not necessarily correct ( Back

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