Darfur, a forgotten province
Located in north-east Africa at the turn of the Arab-Muslim and African worlds, Sudan is the largest country in Africa with 2.5 million square kilometers and 36,230,000 inhabitants. It forms a kind of decentralized federation of 26 states (wilaya), such as Darfur, which will be our topic of discussion. Darfur is a region in western Sudan, the Sahara, mostly populated by Muslims (51%). It is divided into several provinces such as Gharb Darfur and Shamal Darfur; Darfur and Djanoub represent an ethnic group of about 500,000 people.
This region of Sudan has been the scene of attention since 2003: a conflict between rebels and government forces and also a severe humanitarian crisis. Sudan has always suffered from multiple religious divisions, ethnic and socio-economic issues: between Muslims and Christians, Arabs and Africans, nomads and farmers. The three Sudanese conflicts (South Darfur, east), reflect these multiple issues, exacerbated by struggles over natural resources.
The longest civil war in Sudan began in 1983 and it killed at least two million people and relocated four million. Even today, Sudan is in the news with the conflict taking place in Darfur since 2003. Since February 10, 2003, the occupation by the rebels in the city of Gulu (North Darfur), a new civil war accompanied by massacres, destruction of villages and the displacement of population has been taking place. In September 2003, the first assessment of the war reported tens of thousands dead.
In 2004, despite the decree of a cease-fire agreement signed in N'Djamena, the violence intensified. The coming of the Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Khartoum on 3 July 2004, aimed to ask the Sudanese government to disarm the Janjaweed militias (Arab militias), accused of murder, rape and looting in villages of Darfur. At the end of the month, the UN estimated 300,000 people killed in just fifteen months and more than one million displaced people in precarious camps across the border in Chad.
With resolution 1556, the Security Council decided the UN embargo on military equipment against the only non-governmental militias. The fighting was continuing to escalate; in September 2004, the US government condemned the genocide of the Sudanese people. The reaction of the Security Council was: it adopted on September 18, 2004 a resolution to threaten Sudan oil sanctions if it did not come to fulfill a commitment to restore lasting security in Darfur. Immediately, the Sudanese foreign minister informed the organization that he had rejected the new draft resolution outright.
The European Union responded quickly to the call by Kofi Annan to return his visit to Darfur.
Once again, they were able to demonstrate its commitment to peace in Africa. But very quickly, and contrary to efforts in Congo, they had to accept the role of minor player in the return of peace, lurking in the shadows of the African Union (AU).
Tags: decentralized federation, humanitarian crisis, Sudanese conflicts, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Security Council, non-governmental militias