By Yahya Arko
The ongoing crisis in Western Sudan, Darfur began in 2003. This is as a result of fighting between the government of Sudan and its militia, composed of a movable group of fighters mostly of Arabic background known as Janjaweed, and rebel groups, notably the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Rebel groups claim that Arab-ruled government of Sudan is intentionally causing social inequality, political marginalisation and discrimination towards black Africans.
The government refuses to respond to rebel’s demands and instead, armed and supported the Janjaweed militia to carry out a military campaign against civilians. Militias have consistently attacked villages and killed civilians that share the same ethnicity as the rebel groups, steal livestock and poison water supplies, and the government air forces burn the villages to the ground.
The militia repeatedly rape girls and women who live in internally displaced person camps when they go out to collect firewood or water. As a result more than 2.7 million people have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in internally displaced person camps or to neighbouring countries such as Chad. According to non-governmental organisations, it is estimated that over 400,000 people have been killed since the conflict started.
The Darfur conflict has now been going for ten years. On a daily basis men are killed, women are raped and children are dying of malnutrition. The conflict is ongoing, and peace is nowhere near. The government and rebels are not willing to stop the conflict.
The international community has also failed the people of Darfur; the International Criminal Court (ICC) did not follow through with the indictment of the President of Sudan, Omer Al-Bashir, on charges of crimes against humanity. Al-Bashir has made many trips to the states that signed the Rome Statute such as Chad, and the ICC has said nothing.
Darfur is no longer on the international community’s agenda and is no longer in view of the international media. When is the international community going to meet its moral obligation and listen to its conscience, instead of turning a blind eye to the conflict?