Inside Story

Darfur: A decade of disaster

We examine why the goal of comprehensive peace and prosperity in Sudan's Darfur region remains elusive.
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2013 11:49

It has been ten years now since civil war broke out in Sudan's Darfur region but the area remains wracked with conflict and efforts to forge lasting peace have so far failed.

"Very little has changed because the political crisis in the whole country continues, and therefore the Darfur crisis is part of the overall political crisis, it is not separable ...  these rebel armed groups in Darfur have links to either factions in the north or they had links in the past and continue to have links with the SPLF which now controls the new country in South Sudan."

- Safwat Fanos, an associate professor at University of Khartoum 

A decade of fighting has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions of people displaced.

The people of Darfur are among the poorest in Africa and for a decade many have been living in desperation, in refugee camps, in fear.

In 2003, predominantly non-Arab rebel groups in Darfur took up arms against Sudan's government, accusing Khartoum of neglecting them.

The government backed local militias to put down the insurgency, in what became known as the 'scorched-earth' campaign.

Some Arab tribes have since turned on each other in battles for control and resources, changing the nature of the conflict

But it is civilians who are still suffering the consequences and aid groups say they are struggling to cope.

While Darfur's rebel groups are keen to push the peace process forward, it is the infighting between Arab tribes that is now destabilising the country.

"The simple fact is that the war in Darfur is not about marginalisation, it is in fact a national war which in this instance happens to have been fought out in Darfur. Back in the early 2000s there was a big falling out between the government of Sudan and the Islamist faction led by Dr Hassan al-Turabi."

- David Hoile, a professor at Sudan International University

Fighting over control of a gold mine in north Darfur is reported to have killed more than 500 people; dozens of villages are said to have been destroyed.

According to the UN, seven weeks of fighting have left 100,000 people displaced or severely affected – that is adding to some 1.4 million displaced people already living in camps.

And although much of the violence has fallen in recent years, the goal of comprehensive peace and prosperity in Darfur remains as elusive as ever.

Can there be lasting peace after a decade of war in Darfur?

Inside Story, with presenter Jane Dutton, is joined by guests: Safwat Fanos, an associate professor of political science at the University of Khartoum; Ishag Mekki, secretary general of the Darfur Victims Organisation of Relief and Rehabilitation; and David Hoile, a professor of media studies at Sudan International University, and author of the book, Darfur: The Road to Peace.

"In 2001, 2002, 2003 onwards the government jumped in and backed Arabs against African indigenous tribes in the area. And they launched a war to eliminate the Darfurians because they only asked to have a share in the power and resources of the country. But they were denying it to them by waging war, and that we have lost nearly 300,000 Darfurians including members of my family, are grievances we have been suffering since 2004. Now it is the tenth anniversary of this war since it started and there have been many negotiations ... but all of these negotiations have never come a political solution for the crisis in Darfur."

- Ishag Mekki, Darfur Victims Organisation of Relief and Rehabilitation


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