When: 2003 – Present
Location: Western Sudan
Estimated Dead: 350,000 – 500,000
Number of Displaced: 3 million
The Sudanese government, along with Arab militia known as Janjaweed, are attempting to exterminate and/or drive out the indigenous population of Darfur with a campaign of murder and terror. Since 2003, almost half a million civilians have died as a result of violence, starvation, and disease while nearly three million people have been driven from their homes and forced into refugee camps in neighboring countries or Internally Displaced Person camps (IDP) within Sudan. Janjaweed militia have also been accused of widespread rape throughout the region, with estimates being well above 10,000 cases.
The conflict in Darfur began in 2003 with the onset of the Darfur Rebellion, spearheaded by two rebel groups known as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM), seeking greater autonomy for Darfur. This desire for autonomy comes out of the complex ethnic make-up of the Sudan. The North is primarily of Arab muslims, the South is comprised of African christians, and the majority of Darfur (in the West) is African muslims. However, power has always been concentrated in the north of the country, leaving the other regions and ethnic groups both marginalized and without representation. This disparity in power has led to two protracted civil wars between the north and the south that left over two million dead.
Just as the Darfur Rebellion was beginning, the Second Sudanese civil war was finally coming to a close and the northern government and the southern rebel movements were finalizing the conditions for an independent South Sudan. War-weary from decades of civil war and keen on sustaining the territorial integrity of the Sudan, the Sudanese government sought to silence the Darfur rebellion quickly and aggressively. After a year of fighting rebel groups, the government offensive transitioned to attacking civilian population centers in 2004. The Sudanese government employed a scorched-earth policy, in which they not only attacked rebel strongholds but also destroyed villages and civilian population centers in order to eliminate any support for the rebel groups or autonomy in the region. Sudanese soldiers and Janjaweed militia engaged in a campaign of murder and destruction, leaving thousands dead and thousands more fleeing for their lives. By 2006, the UN classified the conflict in Darfur as the world’s “worst humanitarian crisis.”
While the genocide in Darfur gained large amounts of public attention in the late 2000s, public awareness on the issue and support for action has waned. Public awareness began to drop off around 2008-2009 as violence in the region decreased due to peace talks between the government and rebel forces. However, peace talks broke down in early 2010 and violence in the region has resumed without much public attention. In 2014 alone there were over 3,000 attacks on villages throughout the region.
There are currently nearly 20,000 African Union and UN troops stationed in Darfur. While these troops have been in Darfur since 2005, there has been little success in stopping the violence over the past decade. Their mandate is strictly for peacekeeping, which prevents them from taking offensive measures to stop Janjaweed or the Sudanese government’s attacks.
Hear Their Stories, See their Lives
Download this folder of 50 individual photos and stories of refugees who were forced to flee their home from violence and now live on handouts in refugee camps. Need more than 50? Check out our Personal Stories of Darfur on flickr!
|Farha lives in Oure Cassoni with her family. She plays volleyball and jump-rope with her friends. Learn more about her life in this video from i-ACT 1.|
|We meet Ahmat on our first trip in 2005, watch the video here. He tells us of life in Darfur and the struggles of refugee life. When we returned in 2007, Ahmat had returned to Darfur in search of secondary education. We haven’t heard from him since.|
|Dajhima survived the attack on her village by the janjaweed militia. In March 2009, she told us her story on camera. When she spoke about the young girls being raped, she gently touched her daughters hand. A reality no one should have to face.|
|Adam and his family escaped the violence in Darfur, and he is now determined to help build a library and school so refugees can learn about the world. Watch this video from January 2008 from our first encounter. See progress on his life and library in June 2009 when we meet back up with him and his family.|
|Adef and Achta told us of their journey across the desert to safety in Chad and the lost of their four year old son to diarrhea in January 2008. Learn more of their suffering in March 2009.Watch the latest video of their life in a refugee camp from June 2009, where a little bit of joy fills our hearts.|
|Different i-ACT team members have spent time with Fatna since our very first trip. Each time, we are touched by her strength. Connect with her in this video from January 2008 or download her profile and share it with your friends.|
|Mansur is an artist. Drawings of Darfur, and the attacks on his people, cover the walls of his mud hut. Watch this video of Mansur describe the horrors of his Darfur memories. Download his profile and share it with your community.|
Tools for you and your community
Guisma’s eyes have seen what no child should ever see. Her home was destroyed. Brothers and sisters died. Most of her life lived as a refugee, with little hope for a safe and nurturing future — but Guisma still smiles. Guisma is Darfur, bombed and oppressed — but still beautiful and resilient. You have the opportunity to participate in creating a better future for her and all of Darfur. By participating, you shine a light on Guisma and Darfur’s road to peace.
The story is based on information from a Darfuri family now living as refugees. The animated images are inspired by drawings by Darfuri refugee children.
Peace, Protection, and Justice for Guisma and all innocent civilians in Darfur is the goal, and conditions on the ground is the only measuring stick. By “Liking” the campaign, This is Darfur, you promise to work to build a road to peace for Guisma and Darfur.