Sudan: What next for Darfur?

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The United Nations had declared the genocide in Darfur over. Last August, the UN’s outgoing military commander in Darfur General Martin Agwai told reporters that the conflict was effectively over and isolated attacks and banditry were the region’s main problems now. While this notion holds some water, there have been reports of recent surge of violence in Darfur, and continual efforts from the Arab-led government in Khartoum to undermine efforts of the United Nations and African Union forces working to restore peace and reconciliation in the region.

In earnest, peace, security and stability is not exactly a part of Darfur at the moment, especially as peace talks between Khartoum and Darfur rebels have made little progress in the absence of the two main rebel groups at the summit in Qatar. Qatar, the United Nations, the African Union, Arab League and Chad have all helped to arrange peace talks between Khartoum and Jem over the past few years.

Earlier this month UNAMIAD reported 221 deaths in tribal fighting and other violence in Darfur in June after nearly 600 deaths in May. Uncertainty remains about the safety, timely and unrestricted humanitarian access and protection for an estimated 2 million refugees. Eight people were reported killed and many more injured last week when fights broke out in refugee camps between supporters and opponents of peace talks.


And while UN/AU officials believe emphasis should be placed on security and civility, some analysts believe that weight should be placed on reconstruction projects or a direct UN/AU-led negotiation of a political settlement between Darfur rebels and Khartoum.

While a direct negotiation for a political settlement led by AU/UN officials is something the Sudan government in Khartoum favors according to some analysts, the need for security and protection for Darfur refugees and aid workers cannot be overemphasized.

Because the United Nation recognizes the fragility of the peace and security in Darfur, its 15-nation council on Friday, July 30, unanimously approved the extension of the joint African Union/U.N. peacekeeping force (UNAMID) by another year.

Rather than engage in political settlement with Khartoum, UNAMAID peacekeepers will now focus primarily on protecting civilians and aid deliveries under a mandate that will last until July 31, 2011, and UN/AU officials will develop a comprehensive strategy to achieve these targets, as they have been instructed.

Aid group Oxfam agreed with the Security Council that UNAMID should focus on security and stay out of reconstruction.


The trouble in Darfur which was later considered as genocide, began when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglect and marginalization. The Khartoum government responded by mobilizing mostly Arab militias against the non-Arab Darfurians.

The Khartoum government led by Omar al-Bashir reportedly funded the Arab-led militia who were accused of rape, murder and looting; creating one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Omar al-Bashir was subsequently charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, by the International Criminal Court.

According to U.N. officials, more than 300,000 have been killed. Over 21,700 troops and police have been struggling for three years to restore security and calm in Darfur.

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