What Exactly is the Darfur Conflict?

What is Darfur and what is happening there? This is not a simple question to answer. Much of the conflict in Darfur stems from tensions that have been building for years.

Darfur is located in Sudan, a country in north eastern Africa. There are two rebel groups fighting in Darfur. This fighting stems in part from disputes over land and grazing.

The Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) is a group of Arab men who feel that the government protects the interests of the African farmers over their interests.

The Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), is a group of African Muslims who feel that the Arab population is being favored over their interests.

These groups are demanding a share of the power and decision making in the government. The government, afraid that similar rebellions would crop up in other areas of the country dispatched the military to put down the rebellion. Militias were put together made up of men recruited from the country side. These groups are called Janjaweed.

Janjaweed patrol the areas outside refugee camps. This group has committed many human rights violations including torching villages, poisoning water supplies, destroying food sources, killing men and raping women and children who venture too far from the refugee camps searching for food and water.

These refugee camps do not have enough food, water, medicine, or doctors to care for the people who are seeking refuge there. Over 400,000 people have been killed and many more are dieing from lack of food and water. Aid organizations are not able to gain access to all those in need because of the violence in the area. More than 2.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes.

A peace agreement has been in place. According to this agreement, the rebel groups will be absorbed into the national army. The government has promised to disarm the Janjaweed. The government of Sudan has also promised to send more money to the region.

This agreement is no a guaranteed end to the conflict or the problems in the Darfur region. Agreements are only good as long as all those involved keep the agreement. Whether or not this happens in Darfur remains to be seen. There is still the problem of what to do with the civilians and refugees who are starving and displaced. They cannot return to their homes because the villages have been destroyed. An international effort will be required to solve the problems in the Darfur region, there is no simple solution.

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