Crisis Continues to Strike Darfur

Map of Darfur, Sudan
Image via Wikipedia

By Brooke Delia
Staff Writer

How would you feel living in constant fear of your life? What would you do if every time you left your house you had to worry about being tortured, raped or killed? What if everything you worked so hard for to earn could be destroyed in minutes? Have you heard of Darfur? Do you know what is going on? This is the daily life of millions of people living in Darfur.

The region of Darfur is a drought-prone area of western Sudan. Sudan is the largest country in Africa and it is located south of Egypt on the eastern edge of the Sahara desert. It is roughly the size of Texas and divided into three states. There are between 40 and 80 ethnic groups in Darfur. Most villages are multi-ethnic and, despite ethnic differences, there is a history of peaceful coexistence. Darfur had a combined population of approximately 6 million people before the crisis began.

In the spring of 2003, the conflict began in Darfur. To fight against the historical, economical and political marginalization of Darfur, two movements, the SLM (Sudan Liberation Movement) and the JEM (Justice and Equality Movement), initiated attacks on the government. At the same time, the Sudanese government participated in debates with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army to end an ongoing civil war between North and South Sudan. They quickly and violently tried to end the rebellion. Through corresponding military raids with government-armed militia, also known as the janjaweed, the Sudanese military exclusively targeted ethnic groups from which the rebels received much of their support. The civilian casualties were massive. Millions of civilians were forced to flee their homes and nearly 400 villages were completely obliterated. Many experts calculate that as many as 300,000 people lost their lives between 2003 and 2005. In September 2004, President George W. Bush declared the crisis in Darfur “genocide.” Regardless of the region’s cry for help, the violence continues in Darfur and the number of dead and displaced has increased significantly. Everyday, civilians face prospects of mass killings, torture, rape, theft and the destruction of their camps and villages.

In January 2008, the African Union, which was underfunded and underequipped, was replaced with the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force also known as the UNAMID. Unfortunately, UNAMID also remains without the essential resources to protect the 2.7 million internally displaced persons who live in camps across Darfur. In neighboring Chad, there are around 300,000 displaced Darfuri refugees living on the border. Out of the six million people of Darfur, the UN estimates that around 4.7 million are still being affected by the genocide.

In one month, leaders from around the world will be coming together in New York City to discuss humanity’s most pressing issues. Will keeping peace in Sudan be a priority? If you go to this website: you can sign a petition urging President Obama to remember the people of Sudan. The success of this campaign depends on you!

In addition, during family weekend, Marywood will be hosting the Rebecca Davis Dance Company as they present DARFUR. This performance will be held at the Sette LaVerghetta Center for Performing Arts (PAC). DARFUR is a powerful and engaging multi-media modern dance production to raise awareness and funds for victims of genocide. The production follows the journey of U.S. Marine Brian Steidle as he witnesses the devastation unfolding in Sudan. The ballet is performed by a cast of ten professional dancers and is set to alternative rock music by various artists which includes: A Perfect Circle, Apocalyptica, Damien Rice and Green Day. Admission is free so come join the Marywood community in this incredible and moving performance.

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