The Genocide in Darfur

The first genocide of the 21st century

How it Began

When the Bashir took power, the people who lived in Darfur thought that the government was not going to be able to protect their interests. The people of Darfur created two rebel groups known as the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement. The Bashir, upset by these rebel groups, sent militants into the area to combat the SLA and JEM. He also sent militants known as the Janjaweed, which means “devils on horseback,” to terrorize the citizens of Darfur.

Refugees fled into the surrounding countries to escape the massacre in Darfur. They were met with open arms, these countries setting up refugee camps for them. However, they were not safe from attacks by the Janjaweed. The UN estimates that 2.3 million people have been killed or displaced from their homes in Darfur.

The conflict flared in 2003 when the two rebel groups were created. In 2009 the International Crime Court issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir; however, Bashir has dismissed these accusations. Darfur is lacking of basic infrastructure such as: roads, clean water, and schools.

Together as a world community we need to stand together to end this genocide in Darfur and return the refugees to their homes. This will not stop until the dispute between the rebels and the Sudanese government is over. Something needs to be done about this conflict.

Eye-witness Account

The genocide in Darfur is unknown to many people, even though it is happening right now, in our midst. No journalist is permitted inside the war areas in Sudan, so evidence of the destruction and mistreatment is difficult to come by. However, in 2004, a former American Marine, Brian Steidle, was granted access to Darfur, completely unarmed and unaware of what he would find. The pictures and stories brought back by Steidle are the only eyewitness testimonies from an American citizen. He has helped bring the devastation in Darfur into light.

Steidle’s pictures include wounded adults and children, burning villages, and gruesomely murdered African people. He speaks of one particular event in which young school girls and members of their families were tied together and burnt alive. According to him, the Janjaweed and the Sudanese government have no respect at all for human life or dignity. He explains that the Janjaweed have a routine; they go from village to village torching buildings and murdering innocent Africans, every day.

While in Darfur, Steidle interviewed many African civilians, asking them how they feel about the current situation. Even though the government refuses accusations of being involved with the Janjaweed, every person stated that they were a single group, wishing to cleanse the country of all African Christians.

Once he returned, Steidle began raising awareness for the people of Darfur and the destruction they are experiencing. He challenges first-world nations: “The countries of the world, UN, US; call it like we see it? What is going on here is most definitely crimes against humanity and most definitely genocide. There is no question about that. They are being burned alive only because they are too dark.” With this statement, Steidle expresses all of his concerns about the gruesome genocide in Darfur.

How We Responded

The United States does not tend to act by themselves towards ending this genocide. However, we do tend to corroborate with the UN and the African Union. Save Darfur is one of the most prominent non-profit organizations fighting for the people of Darfur in the US. The Bush administration had hoped to take a confrontational approach to the situation in Darfur. However, no confrontational action was ever taken.

Refugees

Refugees from Darfur can be found in many other countries in Africa and some in Europe. Most survivors reside in Chad, and some have even gone back to their homeland.
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What We Can Do

Something desperately needs to be done to stop genocides like this one in Darfur. The United States and other powerful nations need to send in supplies to the refugees and victims of the Janjaweed. They are lacking basic needs such as food, water, and shelter, and their government is not providing them with it. We could also send troops in to protect the innocent citizens, but this would be a very drastic step. To prevent other genocides like this one, racial and religious prejudices need to be resolved. Terrorist groups need to be controlled and dissolved so they cannot cause such devastation as the current genocide in Darfur.