Sudan has been at war almost without interruption since its independence from Britain in 1956. For years an Arab-dominated Islamist government battled rebels from the Christian and animist south. Perhaps 2m people died in these wars before South Sudan was recognised in 2011 as Africa’s newest country.
In 2003 armed groups began a rebellion in Darfur, a relatively prosperous region the size of Spain where black African locals complained that the government in Khartoum was oppressing them. In response, Mr Bashir armed nomadic Arab cattle-herders, turning them into the Janjaweed, a horse-mounted militia that was unleashed upon black farmers with such savagery that in 2010 the International Criminal Court (icc) indicted Mr Bashir on charges of genocide.
Many of those who were chased from their homes languish in camps near towns like el-Fasher or in neighbouring Chad. Their lands are occupied by armed Arab tribes that the victims still call the Janjaweed. Abdulrazig Abdallah, an elder in el-Fasher, says four people from his camp were killed in early September when they ventured to their farms for the harvest. Such incidents are commonplace.
The new government has declared a ceasefire with rebels, which even the most recalcitrant seem to be observing. “This time both sides are serious,” says a un official. Rebel leaders have been invited back from exile. And the government has markedly improved access for humanitarian organisations and journalists.
A slender chance for peace in Darfur: Sudan’s revolution could end the conflict in Darfur https://t.co/wQBmmq0HcP
— Shehzad Younis (@shehzadyounis) November 28, 2019