Darfur Q&A #2

I’m sorry; I don’t really understand what’s going on in Darfur. Who are the bad guys and what is their motivation for all of the raping and killing?

The crisis in Darfur is fairly complex and often difficult to understand. First, you should know that a Civil War has been ongoing in Sudan for thirty years. The war is between the South and the North and people often confuse what’s happening in Darfur as being part of the Civil War, even though it’s not.

Rebels in Darfur, which is in the West, rose up against the Khartoum government in 2001. This happened because the people in the region felt that the Arab government wasn’t treating their non-Arab citizens equally.

Since the Sudan Army had been engaged in the civil war in the South, Khartoum had few troops in reserve, so they decided to enlistment militias to put down the rebels in Darfur. These militia, known as Janjaweed (meaning “hordes”), began attacking villages and civilians in order to drive them from the region. The Janjaweed are composed of nomadic tribes, while the rest of Darfur is made up of farmers.

Even though these two groups have clashed over land and resources in the past, the conflict became an international crisis in 2004 when the Janjaweed pushed 100,000 people out of their homes and burned their villages to the ground. As the people fled to Chad and humanitarian organizations got involved, Darfur made its first real international headlines.

The motivation for the killing and rapes is to demoralize and depopulate the region. The Khartoum government has been supporting and outfitting the Janjaweed in an effort to not only put down the rebellion, but to get rid of the people who are opposed to the Khartoum government, and give their land and resources to the tribes who are helping them.

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