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Darfur: A refugee Crisis Case Study

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  • 1. Darfur:A refugee Crisis CaseStudy

2. How has this situation come about?

  • The ongoing conflict in westernSudan'sDarfur region has since itsoutbreak in 2003 taken the toll of est. 200,000-400,000 lives (UN statistics), with more than 100,000 per year. Another 2,500,000 people have been forcefully displaced (forceful migration), 200,000 have migrated into the neighboring country of Chad.Over 400 villages were completely destroyed and approx. 100 were damaged
  • The conflict has been raging since Sudan's Arab-dominated government started getting accused of rallying Arab tribal fighters to help quash two non-Arab rebel groups that launched attacks on military targets in February 2003, complaining of neglect and discrimination by the government.
  • Furthermore, with the Sahara Desert advancing more than 10km a year, competition is increased for the remaining fertile land.
    • Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has announced an immediate ceasefire in the Darfur region of western Sudan, where up to 300,000 people have died and more than two million have fled their homes since 2003.
      • BBC News 12 November 2008

3. The possible reasonsofthe ongoing conflict:

  • Multiple reasons have been considered to eventually causing the conflict in the Darfur region, comprising of a combination of:
  • Drought
  • Desertification
  • Overpopulation
  • A general abundance of automatic weapons(from 1976 onwards)
  • Further to be combined with the local Baggara nomads
  • searching for water, having their livestock moving further
  • South, to a land occupied mainly by Black African farming
  • communities. This resulted in a general negative approach of the
  • Farmers towards the intruding herders and violence started to
  • spread .By 2003, violence has escalated into a conflict raging ever
  • since.

Darfur, the Land of the Fur (tribe) - translation of DarfurFig.1 The map of Darfur Fig. 2Women in Darfur waiting for supplies of water to arrive 4. The belligerents of the conflict :

  • Government
  • The Sudanese Army:
  • Multiply accused of genocide and breaking human rights, the Sudanese military is pitched in heated combat with opposing rebel groups, often wiping out entire villages accused of allegedly supporting the rebels.
  • The Janjaweed:
  • A conglomeration of tribes of Arab origin based in south Darfur, with a number of militants exceeding 5,000. Responsible for torching villages, murdering and raping black African population.Secretly s upported by the government.
  • Various rebel groups
  • The JEM (Justice and Equality Movement)
  • The JEM is a rebel group fighting in the ongoing Darfur conflict. It is led by Khalil Ibrahim. Constantly fighting against the Sudanese government, it assaulted the second largest city of Khartoum in May 2008, stating that "This is just the start of a process and the end is the termination of this regime"
  • The SL M(Sudan LiberationMovement )
  • A loose association of Sudanese rebel groups fighting agaist the Sudanese government
  • The NRF (National Redemption Front)
  • Another member of the rebel alliance fighting against the Sudanese Arab government in the Darfur conflict

Fig.3 The insignia of the SLM 5. The timeline of the conflict:

  • 2003-2004
  • Outbreak of the conflict, many rebel military successes, deployment of the Janjaweed militia against the rebel units, first signs of mass displacement and pillaging
  • Amnesty International and the UN peacekeeping force are discussed to intervene the fighting
  • 2004-2005
  • Violence spreads through most of the Darfur region, thousands are murdered and displaced, thousands of villages pillaged and razed to the ground
  • The Sudanese government continues to support the Janjaweed militia, although they claim the opposite
  • 2006-2007
  • Negotiations between the UN and the rebels take place. However, none are successful for a longer period of time.
  • 2007-2008
  • After being charged of multiple crimes against humanity and genocide, President al-Bashir declares a general and immediate ceasefire as of 12.11. 2008. It is questionable what will be the effect of it on a long term run.

6. 2003, theconflict begins

  • The beginning of the conflict is said to be the 26th of February 2003, when a group calling themselves the DLF (Darfur Liberation Front) publicly claimed credit for an attack on the Golo people in the headquarters of the Jebel Marra District (center of the Darfur region). Minor clashes between the police, army and the rebels taken place, only to be followed by massive air and land attacks of the government on the suspected rebel strongholds.
  • , On 25 March 2003, the rebels seized the garrison town ofalong the Chadian border, seizing large quantities of supplies and arms. Despite a threat by President Omar al-Bashir to "unleash" the army, the military had little in reserve. The army was already deployed both to the south, where the Second Sudanese Civil War was drawing to an end, and to the east, where rebels sponsored by Eritrea were threatening a newly constructed pipeline from the central oilfields to Port Sudan.
  • The rebel tactic of hit-and-run raids to speed across the semi-desert region proved almost impossible for the army, untrained in desert operations, to counter. However, its aerial bombardment of rebel positions on the mountain was devastating.
  • Following a series of successful rebel attacks humiliating the army, the government of Sudan deployed a different tactic to counter the rebels with, mainly consisting of extensive air force strikes and the Janjaweed armed militia.

Fig.4 The DLF soldiers Fig.5 A camp of the Internally Displaced People 7. The events of 2004 2005:

  • From the beginning of 2004, the better-armed Janjaweed militia supported by the government quickly got the upper hand
  • By spring 2004, several thousand people, mostly of non-Arab origin, had been slaughtered and more than a million was driven out of their homes, resulting in a major humanitarian crisis within the region
  • The crisis became to be considered an international one once over 100,000 refugees poured into the neighboring Chad, pursued by Janjaweed militiamen, who clashed with Chadian government forces at the border
  • An observer team from the UN reported that non-Arab villages were razed to the ground while Arab villages were left completely untouched by the Janjaweed:
  • The 23 Fur villages in the Shattaya Administrative Unit have been completely depopulated, looted and burnt to the ground (the team observed several such sites driving through the area for two days). Meanwhile, dotted alongside these charred locations are unharmed, populated and functioning Arab settlements. In some locations, the distance between a destroyed Fur village and an Arab village is less than 500 meters

8. Fig.6 A map showing the completely destroyed (red dots) and damaged (orange dots) villages 9. The events of 2006-2007

  • In May 2006 Minni Minnawi's faction of the main rebel group, the Sudanese Liberation Movement, agreed to a draft peace agreement with the Sudanese government. The other faction of the SLM, led by Abdel Wahid Mohammed Ahmed El-Nur, the founding leader of SLM, refrained from signing the agreement. On 5 May, the agreement, drafted in Abuja, Nigeria, was signed by Minnawi's faction and the Sudanese government
  • The agreement however did not last even a month and as of June 2006 the murdering continued at similar levels as it was reported before.
  • On 17 November 2007, reports of a potential deal to place a "compromise peacekeeping force" in Darfur were announced, but would later appear to have been rejected by Sudan. The UN, nonetheless, claimed on 18 November that Sudan had agreed to the deployment of UN peacekeepers. Sudan's Foreign Minister Lam Akol stated that "there should be no talk about a mixed force" and that the UN's role should be restricted to technical support.
  • However, on November 18, the AU reported that Sudanese military and Sudanese-backed militias had launched a ground and air operation in the region which resulted in about 70 civilian deaths. The UN stated that this "was a flagrant violation of security agreements".

10. International responce:

  • International attention to the Darfur conflict largely began with reports by the advocacy organizations Amnesty International in July 2003 and the International Crisis Group in December 2003.
  • However, widespread media coverage did not start until the outgoing United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, called Darfur the "world's greatest humanitarian crisis" in March 2004 .A movement advocating for humanitarian intervention has emerged in several countries since then.
  • The report to the UN Human Rights Council said the situation in Darfur is "characterized by gross and systematic violations of human rights and grave breaches of international law". It called for the UN Security Council to take "urgent" action to protect Darfur's civilians, including the deployment of a joint UN/African Union force and the freezing of funds and assets owned by officials complicit in the attacks
  • On 14 July 2008, prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC), filed ten charges of war crimes against Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. The ICC's prosecutors have claimed that al-Bashir "masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part" three tribal groups in Darfur because of their ethnicity.
  • Leaders from three Darfur tribes are suing ICC prosecutor Luis-Moreno Ocampo for libel, defamation, and igniting hatred and tribalism

11. Current situation:

  • By the beginning of 2008, the death toll stood at more than 450,000 lives and 2,500,000 displaced. The situation appeared to be a stalemate of violence and despair until Mr. Bash i r's statement in November 2008
  • From the statement of president Bashir which he had on the 12th of November 2008 we can clearly see a reaction to the intense pressure Bashir was under after an International Court prosecutor sought a warrant for his arrest on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, all committed in the Darfur region
  • The BBC's Amber Henshaw, in Khartoum, says the government hopes this plan will be enough to convince the international community to defer the case against Mr Bashir.
  • Many international observers hope that the announcement will put pressure on the international community to set up a monitoring force in Darfur, as no such force exists at the moment.

"I hereby announce our immediate unconditional ceasefire between the armed forces and the warring factions, provided that an effective monitoring mechanism is put into action and observed by all involved parties," Mr Bashir said.- Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan, 12.11. 2008 Fig.7 President al-Bashir 12. Conclusion:

  • Hence as a conclusion, the conflict in Darfur seems with the latest proclamation of president Bashir to be heading towards a possible peace agreement which will be however also enforced by a proper monitoring force until order is fully restored.
  • The region itself is completely devastated and it will take many years and a lot of effort in order to return it to the condition it was before the war broke out, again, international aid is desperately needed.
  • Furthermore, millions of the displaced population are stranded in various refugee camps, often without even the basic of needs. If they are to return back, there must be a place for them to actually return to.
  • Various rebel groups should be brought to an agreement or truce with the government so that their attacks only provoking even more violence finally stop
  • As it is obvious that the entire situation has also come about from long term reasons like desertification that cannot be anyhow efficiently dealt with, it will eventually take decades for the now displaced population to find their place within their country. For now it seems that they are a lost generation. Their herds have a minimal chance of sustainability with most of the remaining pastures getting grazed up and eventually turning into desert. Otherwise from that the local population cannot offer the newly returning displaced population nearly anything. This only causes fears of new conflicts that will possibly emerge, for these rootless people often have nothing to loose.

13. Bibliography and reference sites:

  • www.bbc.co.uk
  • www.timesonline.co.uk
  • www.islamonline.com
  • www.care.org
  • www.un.org
  • www.alertnet.org
  • www.wikipedia.com
  • www.crimesofwar.org
  • http://web.amnesty.org
  • www.hrw.org
  • www.independent.co.uk
  • www.news24.com