Where: Darfur is in the western region of Sudan, a country in the eastern portion of Africa.
What: There has been armed conflict in the region resulting in the deaths of over 200,000 people and the displacement of up to two and a half million people. The fighting has been particularly brutal and the way of life seems irreparably damaged.
Who: Rebel groups took up arms to protest their marginal status in the political and economic life of the country. The government used armed militias, the Janjaweed, to fight against these rebels.
When: The conflict became truly horrible in 2003 and continues in a way that seems to have no end. Important to Note: The United Nations is willing to send peacekepping troops but Sudan's government will not allow them to enter the country.
How: Sudan is able to resist international pressures because of its very strong oil industry and the support of other countries such as China, Iran and Venezuela. Literacy Rates: 61% Arable Land as Percentage of Total: 6.8 Percentage of Population Under 14: 42% Percent of Exports to China (2005): 72% Percent of Labor Force in Agriculture: 80%
Omar al-Bashir The president of Sudan is a military ruler that came to power in 1989. He has increased religious fundamentalism in Sudan and takes a hard line against allowing foreign intervention in his country. He has formed alliances with other fundamentalist, extremist leaders from oil producing nations such as Iran and Venezuela.
Janjaweed The collective name for Arab based tribal militias who operated initially on the authority of the national government in Khartoum and now seem to be comprised of a wide range of Sudanese that no longer seem beholden to anyone in an area that is literally out of control.
Musa Hilal The most powerful of the Janjaweed leaders as well as a leader of Tajamu al Arabi, the Arab gathering that, promotes pan-Arabism and a fundamentalist version of Islam.
Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) One of the initial rebel groups in Darfur. Although it represents individuals with complex ethnic backgrounds, it was initially comprised of those from the Fur tribe, itself a mosaic of over 500 years of tribal, racial and religious interchange. It promotes a secular solution to Sudanese politics.
Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Another of the original guerilla groups in Darfur, and also reflects the complex African origins of the Zaghawa tribe. It advocates a fundamentalist version of Islam.
African Union A collective group of African nations that believes Africans should solve Africa's problems. It placed troops in Darfur in mid-2005 and despite being overwhelmed by the task before them, have committed to remain in Sudan through December 2006. United Nations UNAID workers first brought the situation in Darfur to world attention in late 2003 and early 2004. A UN study of the events in Darfur was released at the end of 2004 and concluded that they did not constitute a genocide but that the participants were merely acting with genocidal intention. In September of 2006, this international organization passed a resolution authorizing use of UN troops as peacekeepers in Sudan. The entrance of UN troops was contingent upon the approval of Sudan's government, permission President Bashir refuses to grant. The Sudanese government expelled the UN envoy, Jan Pronk, in October 2006 because of his criticism of President Bashir's government. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) There has been an amazing outpouring of support in terms of both time and money by both groups and individuals who operate outside of any governmental apparatus. These groups and individuals raise awareness of the problem and attempt to provide humanitarian assistance. Despite sincere efforts, these individuals and organizations are not able to influence the larger structural obstacles and create far reaching solutions to the Darfur crisis. For a partial listing of these NGOs, see Resources: How to Help