WMC Reports

WMC Women Under Siege Conflict Report: Darfur-Sudan (2012)


In March 2003, after decades of tension, fighting erupted in Sudan’s western Darfur region between Sudanese government forces and rebel groups such as the Sudanese Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement. Over the next few months, tens of thousands of Darfuris fled. Government troops and allied militia forces, called the Janjaweed, attacked villages and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, systematically raped women, and murdered whole communities. To ensure mass destruction, forces burned homes and poisoned water wells. Some analysts consider the conflict to be an attempt by the Arab-identifying majority to destroy the “African” minority.

Meanwhile, other areas of Sudan have experienced unrest. After much tension between the north and south of the country, the people of southern Sudan voted in January 2011 to secede. In July 2011, South Sudan officially declared its independence as a new nation. Political analysts believe the Sudanese government had hoped that international attention would be diverted by peace talks with former rebels in South Sudan, allowing it to quell the Darfur rebel movements with quick, systematic military action. But although the nascent country may have edged its way into headlines, atrocities continue elsewhere. And compared with other areas of Sudan, Darfur suffers from the most systematic rape, due to the ease with which soldiers can target women in Darfur’s IDP camps.

Darfur - Nets

A mother and daughter sit behind a mosquito net in an internally displaced persons camp — where rape is always a risk — in Nyala, south Darfur, in 2005. Both were being treated for malnutrition. (Lynsey Addario/VII)

Sudan’s government has used profits from oil wealth in various parts of the country, including areas in the Nuba Mountains and in South Sudan, to fund its military attacks in Darfur. "Oil revenues account for a majority of Sudanese government income, and therefore are instrumental in financing genocide,” according to a 2006 report from Yale University. While the mass murder and rape in Darfur has been funded largely from oil in other Sudanese regions, Bloomberg reports that oil has recently been tapped in Darfur itself, with additional exploration studies being carried out in other parts of Sudan. In 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes, making al-Bashir the first sitting head of state to have a warrant against him by the court.

Read the full report here.

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