Wednesday, March 24, 2004

There’ve been some shocking reports of so-called ethnic cleansing coming out of the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

As Amnesty International described the situation, Men, women and children are being killed and villages are burnt and looted because the central government is allowing militias aligned to it to pursue what amounts to a strategy of forced displacement through the destruction of homes and livelihood of the farming populations of the region.

Amnesty condemned the government of the Sudan for failing to ensure the protection of civilians. This is not a situation where the central government has lost control... For the past year, no member of the Janjawid [militia] has been arrested or brought to justice for a single unlawful killing., claimed the London-based organization. The government is still severely restricting humanitarian aid in Darfur, and appears unwilling to address the human rights crisis in the region... Neither have [aid organizations] been able to reach tens of thousands of people sheltering in rural towns or in the bush with hardly any food and shelter and no medical supplies.

The ethnic cleansing occurs as the Arab-dominated government and the black African Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army are allegedly close to reaching a settlement to end the 20 year old civil war in the south of the country.

Regional analysts point out that there is a growing sense of regional identity among diverse communities sharing the same experience of marginalization, according to the IRIN news service.

The Sudanese central government is infamous for tolerating slavery in the south of the country, a practice conducted almost exclusively by a government backed militia, according to Human Rights Watch. So it’s hardly surprising that the regime in Khartoum stands accused to turning a blind eye to ethnic cleansing in the west.

The situation is so dire that the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Sudan,compared human rights violations going on in Darfur to what happened in Rwanda in 1994. He said the only difference between the two were the numbers of dead, murdered, tortured and raped. [He] said more than 10,000 people had been killed in the fighting. Additionally, some 100,000 people have fled the fighting in Darfur into neighboring Chad.


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