Tens of thousands of civilians have been murdered and thousands of women raped in Sudan’s western region of Darfur by Sudanese government soldiers and members of the government-supported militia sometimes referred to as the Janjaweed. About 2 million civilians have been driven from their homes, their villages torched and their property stolen by the Sudanese military and the Janjaweed.
Some of the victims have escaped to neighboring country of Chad, but most are trapped inside Darfur. Thousands die each month from the effects of inadequate food, water, health care, and shelter in a harsh desert environment. All are afraid to return home because the countryside is not safe.
The ethnic and perceived racial basis of the violence has been documented by the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations, independent human rights organizations, and international journalists. The Sudanese government primarily has targeted the civilian population of the Fur, Zaghawa, and Masaalit ethnic groups, sometimes referred to as "Africans." The government's Janjaweed allies are drawn from some of Darfur's "Arab" tribes.
Sudan's Khartoum-based government is fueling ethnic and racial violence by using the Janjaweed militia as proxies against Darfur insurgents who launched a rebellion in early 2003.
But it is civilians who are suffering.
Government-sponsored actions include:
INFLAMING ethnic conflict
IMPEDING international humanitarian access, resulting in deadly conditions of life for displaced civilians
BOMBING civilian targets with aircraft
MURDERING and RAPING civilians
Darfurians who have fled the violence provide chilling testimony. One refugee told New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof that “the Arabs want to get rid of anyone with black skin. . . . There are no blacks left [in the area I fled].”
The death toll exceeds 100,000 and may be more than 400,000. And the crisis continues—the lives of hundreds of thousands more hang in the balance today.