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Trouble in Darfur: Government Complacency in Ethnic Genocides

The Darfur Region is an area in western Sudan that has been marred by conflict and genocide since the early 21st Century. ‘Darfur’ literally means ‘Land of the Fur’, with the Fur being an predominant ethnic group living in the region. The reasons for conflict stemmed from an extension of the Second Sudanese Civil War, which occurred between the predominantly Arab Government in the northern capital of Khartoum and the predominantly Sub-Saharan African population, who were located in the southern half of the country. Darfur was populated by quite a few of these Africans, leading to a separate rebellion occurring in the area in 2003. A group referring to itself as the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) began an insurrection located partially within the Darfur region, claiming that the Government was not doing enough for the western regions, and was disregarding their African population as a whole. In response, the Sudanese Government began to arm and supply local militias, who were predominantly composed of Arabized African Muslims and a few actual ethnic Arabs living in the area. These militia came to be known collectively as the Janjaweed, and their responsibility was combatting the SRF wherever they were.

Normally, this likely would have just devolved into another African conflict between competing ethnic groups, with the Janjaweed and SRF fighting it out in the Darfur region until one side was forced to concede victory. However, the Janjaweed had a rather poor track record with regards to human rights: they had been used earlier by the Government in order to suppress a smaller uprising in the Nuba mountains, and that had led to a significant amount of carnage and human rights violations on the part of the Janjaweed militias. This case, unfortunately, turned out to be no different. The Janjaweed militia quickly took to dispatching many of the ethnic minority groups who made up the SRF’s largest recruiting blocks in one of the harshest slaughters to ever plague the African continent. Thousands were dispatched, tortured, raped, and murdered. Entire villages that had absolutely nothing to do with the SRF or any insurrectionist activities in the Darfur Regions were slaughtered.

Genocidal rape has been used by the Janjaweed in an attempt to curb the population of these ethnic minority groups. As previously mentioned, many women and children were sold into sexual slavery, or simply raped by members of the Janjaweed after they had finished massacring the men within the village. Any women of the Fur ethnicity who are visibly pregnant are killed so that they cannot bear more Fur children. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, Janjaweed militia members have even crossed the border into Chad to commit further rapes and killings of the ethnic populations there. Death tolls have ranged in estimate from 80,000 to almost half a million depending on the sources. 
The Government of Sudan has consistently and constantly remarked that it never provided any kind of military support for the pro-Arab Janjaweed militias in the Darfur Region. In spite of this, however, there is a plethora of evidence to show that Sudan’s Government was complicit in both arming and giving intelligence to the Janjaweed militia. Sudan’s President at the time, Omar al-Bashir, was more than willing to order Government arms to go to the Janjaweed militia to ensure that they kept on with their fight against the rebel groups in the Darfur Region. In 2008, discussions within the International Criminal Court regarding the involement of Al-Bashir with regards to the genocide that occured in the Darfur Region commenced, though no charges were pressed. However, in March of 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir on charges of crimes against humanity. al-Bashir remained in power until April of 2019, when he was ousted in a military coup. In spite of this action, people remain skeptical that any change will come to the Darfur region, and no one is quite sure as to when there will be an end to the Darfur conflict.