20 December 2007 ~ 0 Comments

The Devil Came on Horseback.

In the Darfur region of western Sudan, a genocide is occurring. Each day, civilians face prospects of mass killings, torture, rape, destruction of villages, theft and other human rights abuses at the hands of the Janjaweed militias – bands of fighters backed by the Sudanese Government.Since the start of the conflict in Darfur in February 2003:

– More than 3 million people have been affected by the crisis.
– More than 400,000 people have died from conflict and diseases.
– 2.5 million civilians have been internally displaced by the conflict.
– 200,000 Darfurians have sought refuge in neighboring Chad.

On September 9, 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell first used the word “genocide” to describe the crisis. This very public condemnation of the conflict took place during Powell’s testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was seen as groundbreaking.

Despite this declaration, very little has changed for the people of Darfur. As many as 5,000 people continue to die each month.

There was a chance for hope in Darfur when the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) was signed on May 5, 2006 by both the government of Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA). But these hopes quickly diminished when the agreement was rejected by other groups in Sudan and the violence actually increased after the signing. Since then, conditions have worsened and the violence has spread onto the neighboring country of Chad.

Almost 3 months later, on August 31, 2006, the UN passed UN Security Council Resolution 1706. Its goal was to resolve the fighting and called for the United Nations to send 22,500 UN troops and police officers to work with the undermanned African Union force in Sudan. Ultimately, Khartoum, capital of Sudan, rejected the proposal for this combined African Union/UN force, despite heavy urging from the international community. Furthermore, Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, considered such a force to be the leading wave of Western colonization in Sudan and the reason why he continues to deny such proposals.

Conditions in Darfur continue to worsen, and the Janjaweed have reemerged as a stronger and better armed force to deal with-as unprecedented reports of violence against women and children have surfaced. Many NGOs and relief organizations are considering packing in and leaving the country as attacks on their bases have resulted in loss of supplies and lives.

For more information check out http://www.channelthechange.com/darfur/ one of many sites dedicated to helping us improve the lives of those in Sudan. If they speak out, they will be killed. If we speak out, there might be a chance of hope after all.