By Adeeb Yousif
In recent days, new causes of unrest and violence among Darfurian communities have compounded the suffering they already are experiencing. President Omar Bashir has been visiting various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the region. Bashir, responsible for a genocide against Darfurians, continues to ignore international law by dismissing the International Criminal Court’s (ICC’s) indictment of him based on evidence of War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide. On Friday, September 22, seven people were killed, dozens more were injured, and nine are reported to have disappeared. Accompanied by five Helicopter Gunships and 200 military vehicles, what is the purpose of Bashir’s visit to the region? Why does the international community continue to ignore the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and Protection of Civilians (PoS)?
Since 2003, Darfurians have been experiencing one of the most horrific catastrophes in their contemporary history. The Government of Sudan (GoS) and its militia, formerly known as the Janjaweed and now operating in the region as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), continues to orchestrate a genocidal campaign against Darfurians. For nearly 15 years, communities throughout Darfur continue to suffer brutal atrocities: systematic rape, massacres, persecution, torture, arbitrary arrests, assassination, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. These crimes are neither Sudanese crimes, nor African crimes; these are global crimes against humanity. Darfurian victims and affected populations are demanding protection.
Interviewing residents of Kalma IDPs camp, an elderly woman described the situation as “the end of the enmity.” She asked, “Who is going to protect us from the Bashir and his militia?” It is terrible enough that innocent civilians have had to suffer brutal atrocities, and Bashir continues to attack civilians when they are at their most vulnerable. It is imperative that the ICC continues to seek justice for the victims, including investigating the currently attacks. How is the region supposed to continue fighting for their livelihoods and foster a culture of peace in such a hostile and dangerous environment? The actions by the GoS create more challenges to achieving lasting peace in Darfur. Make no mistake, the actions by the GoS, responsible for orchestrating one of the modern world’s most successful genocides, are calculated attempts at further destabilizing the region while continuing the rhetoric that there is no longer war in the region.
In an attempt to get US sanctions on Sudan lifted, Bashir fabricated a story of the current situation in Darfur. Bashir’s visit to the region is an effort to validate his lies. IDPs are rightly frustrated with the continued isolation they’ve experienced and the lack of assistance they’ve received, another one of Bashir’s strategies for causing death and destruction to the region. Communities peacefully demonstrated their concerns and provided a letter to The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). In response to peaceful demonstrations, Bashir travelled to the IDPs camps with five Helicopter Gunships and 200 military vehicles full of military personnel. The results were human casualties and massive human right abuses. This terrorist activity in its simple definition and practice and it represents the real enemy to peace.
The region desperately needs the international community to enforce sanctions against the GoS in order to save the lives of innocent Darfurians. Sanctions have traditionally been effective in limiting the GoS’s ability to kill more of its citizens as well as reducing their ability to host terrorists and Islamist militants. It is clear that the GoS is using foreign money and military equipment to support the RSF conducting these attacks across the region. There is plenty of evidence to support these claims; even lesser known atrocities just like those taking place in Darfur have been occurring in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Darfurian and other Sudanese victims are demanding sanctions, protection, and justice. The U.S. Government must take actions consistent with the R2P Act. The civilian population in Darfur are appealing to the U.S. government to stand for their values and honour their commitment to Darfur. UNAMID and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) continue to support the region’s IDPs through assistance and advocacy. While UNAMID and aid operations have provided many IDPs and refugees with immediate assistance, the international community has failed to implement long-term solutions to the violence.
The most important issues facing IDPs are that of protection and survival i.e. basic human needs [food, water, health, shelter, education]. According to former Director of the UN Internal Displacement Division Dennis McNamara, protection of IDPs remains a major concern. According to the theory of Protracted Social Conflict, in order to achieve peace and development, we must first help those affected by violence and conflict meet their basic human needs. While needs of protection and survival are most important, needs of protection, securing identity and cultural fulfilment are also critical. We must also address the emotional experiences of IDPs and refugees, as this deeply relates to the ability to feel secure and have the will to survive. Securing identity as a person is a way to fully create positive peace within communities.
We provide the following recommendations
1. IDPs continue to act peacefully and use all means of nonviolent resistance.
2. The U.S. Government to honour its commitment to peace and justice by enforcing sanctions on the GoS.
3. Human rights groups continue to report the atrocities and share the true stories of what is occurring in the region
4. The international community to help the victims by any means available and do not let the victims of genocide slip from your consciousness.
Adeeb Yousif, PhD Candidate in the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) at George Mason University (GMU) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org