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The Essence of True Humanity Is Compassion

Darfur Pledge Archive, 2005-2007 (Why is this an archive?)





More Information About the Crisis in Darfur         

While the situation in Darfur is complex, the factors underlying this humanitarian catastrophe bear a striking similarity to the economic, ethnic, and political motivations that have contributed to previous incidents of genocide and “ethnic cleansing” throughout the world.

Sudan is the largest country in Africa, located in the northeastern part of the continent. The Darfur region of western Sudan – the states of North Darfur, West Darfur and South Darfur - is approximately the size of Texas. North and West Darfur border Chad on the west, while South Darfur borders the Central African Republic.

Over the past twenty years, drought and the encroachment of the desert have made water and arable land scarce in Darfur. As a result, the population of herders (primarily Arab Muslims) have come into increasing conflict with farmers (primarily black Muslims).

Since Sudan’s independence in the 1950’s, there have been numerous insurgencies against the central government. In southern Sudan, the government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement to end a twenty-year-old civil war on January 9, 2005.

While peace talks moved forward in the south, a rebellion erupted in Darfur in early 2003 when two loosely allied rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLA, previously known as the Darfur Liberation Front) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), attacked government military installations. At that time, rebels in Darfur, seeking an end to the region's economic and political marginalization, also took up arms to protect their communities against an on-going campaign by government-backed militias recruited among groups of Arab culture in Darfur and Chad. These "Janjaweed" militias have received government support to clear civilians from areas considered disloyal.

The Sudanese Government and the Janjaweed are systematically killing civilians (reportedly targeting the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups) and routinely using rape and other forms of sexual violence as weapons of terror. Standard procedure is for the Janjaweed to kill all of the men in a village and rape the women. Millions of people have been forcibly displaced from their homes because of government and Janjaweed attacks, and hundreds of thousands have died.

In July 2004, the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a resolution declaring the situation in Darfur “genocide.” That September, both Secretary of State Powell and President Bush also used the term genocide when referring to Darfur.

On January 25, 2005, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry concluded that Sudanese government forces and the Janjaweed “conducted indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur.” Although the Commission's report documented clear evidence of government-orchestrated mass murders of targeted ethnic groups (in other words, genocide), the Commission held that it did not have sufficient evidence of government "intent" to commit genocide -- a politically expedient finding that allowed the UN to avoid an immediate and decisive response.

Only about half of those who were forced out of their homes are receiving aid; others are in camps that are not yet served or are, literally, wandering in the desert. Even those living in camps that receive international humanitarian aid remain at risk. Food is scarce and sanitary conditions appalling. The makeshift camps are continued targets of attacks and forced relocation. People who venture outside the camps (to search for firewood or other necessities) risk being killed or raped. Children are dying from malnutrition and diarrhea, and the current supplies of food, water and medicine are insufficient. Four million people face the prospect of death if aid is not forthcoming.

While the international community has debated sanctions against the Khartoum government, the definition of “genocide” and where the perpetrators of war crimes should stand trial, the situation in Darfur has deteriorated further. Early in 2006, the Sudanese government stepped up attacks on civilians. Aid organizations cite deteriorating security; threat of famine; mounting civilian casualties; the ceasefire in shambles; the negotiation process at a standstill; the rebel movements beginning to splinter, and new armed movements appearing in Darfur and neighboring states. In late Spring, the rainy season will further restrict humanitarian access to the camps. There is simply no time to waste!

The Current Situation

In September 2006, the UN passed a resolution that would send 20,000 international peacekeepers to Darfur.  However, any deployment is contingent on the permission of the government of Sudan, which has not been forthcoming.

Since declaring the situation a genocide, the Bush Administration has been oddly passive.  Recent reports that the US considers Sudan a partner in the war on terror suggest that the administration weighs this intelligence information as more valuable than the lives of millions of people who remain at risk in Darfur.

What Needs to Be Done

The people of Darfur need four basic steps to take place to end their nightmare:


FIRST, an international protection force of tens of thousands with a mandate to protect civilians must be deployed to stop the killing, despite Sudan's posturing. The few thousand African Union observers with notebooks cannot stem the tide of violence.

SECOND, donor nations must increase the supply of humanitarian aid to the region.  With the protection force in place, the aid should be able to reach --and save the lives of-- those who need it most.


THIRD, the government must allow displaced persons to return to their homes.  The protection force should remain in place to ensure the immediate safety of returnees.


FINALLY, the UN and the US must help to broker a comprehensive peace accord that covers all of Sudan.  Insecurity over the north-south peace accord contributed to the current tragedy in Darfur, and similar crises have begun to erupt in other parts of the country.

What You Can Do

The situation in Darfur could not be more dire, but the Bush administration and international community continue to debate and delay. An international protection force is needed immediately to stop the killing in Darfur and allow humanitarian aid to be delivered effectively. Take the Darfur Pledge today and contact President Bush every day until a protection force – with a mandate to protect civilians – is deployed. Please encourage your friends and family to do the same.

You can also support aid organizations operating in Sudan and organizations (like The ETHIC) working to secure peacekeepers for Darfur.


This information sheet relies heavily on the following sources:
Amnesty International

American Jewish World Service
Canadian Jewish Congress
Darfur Accountability Act of 2005 (introduced in Senate)
Darfur Genocide Accountability Act of 2005 (introduced in the House)

The Guardian Archive of Articles on Darfur

S State Department, “Documenting Atrocities in Darfur” (9/04)
Washington Post, "Darfur's Real Death Toll" (4/24/05)

Washington Post, “Envoy Visits Darfur Camp To Stress U.S. Commitment” (4/15/05)


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© 2005 The ETHIC