Thousands have died or been forced to flee fighting in Sudan's Darfur region [GALLO/GETTY]
Daoud Hari, a Darfurian tribesman now living as a refugee in the US, tells Al Jazeera about life in Sudan's troubled Darfur region and what the next president should do to end the conflict there.
"I am a refugee from northern Darfur and I have been in the US since March 2007.
When I was in Darfur I was a translator for journalists. Life in Darfur before the crisis began was very good.
Our lives were very different in Darfur. We don't need in Darfur what the people in the US and Europe have. We don't need electricity or cars, we just need water and our animals.
But then I saw government troops go into villages, kill the people and burn their homes down.
My own village was attacked and I lost my brother but it's very hard for me, emotionally, to talk about this.
When government troops attack a village the first thing that you hear is the sound of the helicopters.
You cannot hear the ground troops.
The helicopters start shooting missiles at people first and attack the vehicles of rebels before ground troops come in.
Then afterwards they shoot at everything that moves and when they think it is clear the government troops move in with armoured vehicles and heavy machine guns and they capture the women.
The government says the troops have permission to capture the women as kind of spoils of war.
There are sometimes rebels there who try and defend the people but they only have small weapons like Kalashnikovs and M16s - they cannot do much against the helicopters.
People run for their lives but that cannot do much to get away from helicopters when the villages are attacked. People also try to hide in mountainous areas.
Stopping the genocide
In 2006 I was captured by the authorities in Sudan while working with an American journalist and I was held in prison for one month.
Bill Richardson, the governor of [the US state of] New Mexico, helped get us released as the journalist was from New Mexico.
I think Richardson had some personal contacts with Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, and he helped get us released.
I think that [US President George] Bush has done a really good job with Darfur.
Before Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Gordon Brown, the new prime minister in the UK came in, he was acting alone.
No world leaders talked about the genocide or the crisis in Darfur.
Now Bush is leaving office and we want the next president to do more to help Darfur.
Both [Barack] Obama and [John] McCain have to take action and end any negotiations with the government of Sudan.
The next president of the United States has to make this the most important issue for them, as this the most serious humanitarian crisis on the planet.
They could use sanctions, but they also have to take action to pressure China not to support dicatatorships in Africa and to help stop the genocide there."
Daoud Hari now works for the Save Darfur campaign in the US.