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Sudan: The Crisis Explained

Recently, reports have spiked of violence in Darfur, western Sudan, which has caused suffering for millions of people in the country. The current situation in Sudan is much worse than what has been portrayed on western media outlets and the people of Sudan are calling for more global attention on the matter.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) accused the Sudanese government and and its rival political group of committing war crimes in Darfur. The situation in Darfur is “dire by any metric”, said the chief commissioner of the ICC when speaking to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Before the recent destruction, the latest flare up of conflict between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) was in April 2023, however the tensions have been fuelling over the last two decades. In the current wave of violence we are seeing, approximately 49 million people are requiring aid, with more than 7.5 million displaced. The UN reported that by the end of 2023, at least 12,000 people had been killed. Since August 11th, 2023, over 50,000 people have fled their homes in the town of Nyala, South Darfur.

Paramilitary forces have been advancing in Sudan's Darfur region, taking over cities and towns. (AP PHOTO)

This has been the ongoing reality for the people of Sudan; the country erupted into mayhem again last April at the hands of tensions between the military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF, commanded by Mohamed Hamdan also known as “Hemedti” Dagalo. Both sides are participating in blood-filled street battles in the capital, Khartoum, and other areas.

This conflict goes back to 2003, when rebels launched an armed rebellion on the government, accusing them of discrimination and neglect due to the government being highly Arab-dominated government. Former President Omar al-Bashir, chose a very cutthroat response, launching aerial bombings and the militia group Popular Defence Forces, also known as the Janjaweed. The janjaweed are what is also referred to as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), are accused of mass killings and rapes. Up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million displaced from their homes.

Who are the Janjaweed ?

The RSF is commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti CREDIT: Andrew Carter

It's important to understand who the Janjaweed are to understand why Sudanese people are calling out their government. They're a militia group mainly operating in Darfur and Chad.

The Sudanese government has always characterised the conflict in Darfur as a 'tribal conflict', making it seem like civilians are killing each other due to ethnic tensions. The reason for them doing this is to attempt to counter the irrefutable evidence that shows the Sudanese govt having a hand in coordination of these militia groups. Their support comes in forms of systemic coordination and impunity from prosecution, granted to the Janjaweed militias for their war crimes. This policy is still active to this day.

You're probably wondering why a militia group like this exists with the Sudanese government's knowledge. This is because the government is clearly dictatorial, and in 2003 after an attempt to overthrow the government by rebel groups were made, the government stopped trusting it's own armed forces. Many of whom are originally from Darfur. Omar al-Bashir recruited the Janjaweed to be his main force on the ground, and help get things under control during his counterinsurgency campaign in Darfur.

Interestingly, there is an element of ethnic tensions behind the Sudanese govt's actions. When recruiting the Janjaweed militia, the government put out a general call to arms, however recruitment of soldiers was still rather selective, and heavily dependant on ethnicity. The militia force became largely made up of individuals who originated from ethnic groups that had pre-existing tensions with those groups who staged the revolt against the government. Not only did the Sudanese government knowingly recruit people that had sadistic intentions for the people of Darfur, who were going to carry out any acts required by them with a true air of barbarity and cruelty behind it. As if this was not enough of a driving force, the Sudanese government paid these soldiers, promised access to land and administrative power. They also used key tribal leaders from the Northern Riziegat to help coordinate the recruitment.

Since 2003, the janjaweed in conjunction with the Sudanese government have launched attacks on civilians with impunity to stop them being prosecuted for not even one of their evil acts.

Now the Sudanese Armed Forces and the RSF or Janjaweed, are fighting, and with the janjaweed having the pure backing of the government, millions of people have been wrongfully slaughtered. This includes members of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and innocent civilians. This is truly the product of a cutthroat regime being forced upon people in the most violent way. The government has completely failed its people, letting tribalism and hatred be the reason that people are being killed in the masses, bodies are littered across the streets of Darfur, and the government is simply sitting back and commissioning this to happen.

“The entire city is under the RSF and the [Arab] militias cooperate with them. Today, all of el-Geneina is destroyed,” Abakar told Al Hadath. “There is no protection for us whether from the central government or from the regional government.” Abakar was from the non-Arab, Masalit tribe. According to witness and rights groups, Arab militias and the RSF have targeted Masalit displacement camps, killed civilians attempting to escape to neighbouring Chad, kidnapped and raped women and executed influential figures in the community, such as tribal leaders and human rights lawyers and monitors.

Sudan NEEDS eyes on this situation and for other governments to intervene in support of the Sudanese Armed Forces, or even just to regulate the situation to stop innocent civilians being raped and killed. The Sudanese people have no one to help them, they are alone in a warzone that's fuelled by tribalism and backed by their own government. What we're witnessing is ethnic cleansing.

Amongst this silent genocide, there is also a hunger crisis in the country. Men, women and children are dying of famine everyday, and with millions now displaced and in safety camps that they often can never settle in due to the constant threat of violence, the conditions are foul, and food supplies are become more of a rarity everyday.

If you've read this, please share and amplify it with your circles. Use hashtags like #FREESUDAN and #KeepEyesOnSudan - lets spread the word about this atrocity.

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