Updated: March 2012
2011 Overall, the year saw a significant decrease in violent clashes between government forces and rebel groups. UN-AU joint special representative in Darfur Ibrahim Gambari reported a 70-per-cent decrease in the number of attacks in Darfur this year. According to Human Rights Watch, much of Darfur remained off limits to AU-UN forces and aid organizations. In July, UNAMID extended its mandate for another 12 months. Also in July, the Sudanese government and the Liberty and Justice Movement agreed to adopt the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur as well as a separate protocol on LJM’s political participation and the integration of its forces into the national army. Key rebel factions refuse to sign the agreement (including the SLM/A), leading analysts to conclude there is little hope the agreement will lead to any sort of comprehensive and sustainable peace for Darfur. In December, rebel group, Justice and Equality Movement, was dealt a blow when their leader, Khalili Ibrahim, was killed.
2010 The year saw an upsurge of government assaults against dissident rebel groups, even while peace talks continued, as well as fighting among rebel factions. The United Nations Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported more than 2,300 fatalities, the highest since 2008. Peace talks between the government and rebel groups Justice and Equality Movement and the umbrella organization, the Liberation and Justice Movement, began in Doha. The SLA-Abdel Wahid did not participate, nor did the SLA-Minni Faction. SLA–Minni Faction formally denounced the peace process and pulled out of the 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement—it was the only rebel group to have signed the 2006 deal. Khartoum announced internal peace processes with tribal leaders, civil society groups and other local actors to settle conflict. In Sudan’s first multiparty elections in 24 years, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit were re-elected in polls heavily criticized by international observers. In July, the International Criminal Court issued a second arrest warrant for al-Bashir, including charges of genocide. Chad and Sudan announced an end to hostilities and renewed co-operation, as well as the establishment of a joint border force comprised of 3,000 troops.
2009 Fighting decreased in 2009. A skirmish between government troops and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) over the strategic town of Muhajiriya at the end of January was followed by the signing of an Agreement of Good Will and Confidence Building for the Settlement of the Problem in Darfur between the two groups. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. In response, al-Bashir expelled 13 international and three local aid agencies, accusing them of being ICC spies. According to reports, a number of splinter rebel groups amalgamated with JEM and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) to fight the government. The UN military commander in the region, General Martin Agwai, declared that the war in Darfur was effectively over and that only banditry and clashes over resources remained. His comments drew anger and criticism from observers, who insisted Khartoum could restart violence at any time.
2008 Despite the arrival of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) on Jan. 1, the situation in Darfur remained unchanged. The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) between the government of Sudan and increasingly fragmented rebel groups remained stalled. In July, an International Criminal Court prosecutor applied for an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Although by year’s end a decision on the warrant was still forthcoming, it was widely feared that al-Bashir’s indictment would lead to a backlash by the Sudanese government, threatening the DPA, UNAMID personnel, humanitarian workers and civilians within Sudan. Though Khartoum publicly affirmed its commitment to peace, its continued bombing of Darfur, failure to disarm the janjaweed militia, obstruction of UNAMID and a history of broken promises undermined the government’s intentions. Conflict continued to be characterized by co-ordinated attacks between government forces and rebels, as well as more random acts of violence against civilians and humanitarian workers.
2007 Attempts were made to unify the growing number of armed factions who oppose the government. But the talks were largely unproductive because key factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) boycotted the talks. The international community criticized Khartoum for its role in supporting and participating in the violence against civilians in the Darfur, for impeding the deployment of peacekeeping efforts and for violating the arms embargo established by the United Nations. On July 31, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1769, which mandates that a joint UN-AU force composed of 26,000 troops and police be sent to Darfur. The new force, known as UNAMID, was set to take over from AU forces by Jan. 1, 2008. The janjaweed militia changed tactics by reducing outright attacks on civilians and instead denying them basic necessities such as water. Increased instability forced many humanitarian organizations to withdraw. Tribal fighting over land and other scarce resources contributed significantly to hostilities.
2006 Despite the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) in May, between 1,000 and 1,500 people, mostly civilians, were killed as a result of continued atrocities. A new rebel faction, the National Redemption Front (NRF), emerged and took control of the Northern Darfur region. The government in Khartoum finally allowed a light UN force into Darfur to provide logistical assistance to the faltering AU mission. But Khartoum did not agree to allow more troops and continued to accuse the UN of “neo-colonial” motives. Tensions along the Chadian border continued as rebel factions recruited children from refugee camps within Chad. Escalating violence throughout the year fuelled fears that a failure to resolve the Darfur conflict could destabilize the entire region.
2005 Several rounds of negotiations between rebel groups and the Sudan government failed to achieve significant progress. Rebel infighting escalated, further hampering negotiations. Violence escalated sharply in September after a period of diminished violence earlier in the year.
2004 Despite a November ceasefire and a bolstered African Union force, fighting between rebels and government forces and government bombings of civilian villages continued. There were more violent attacks on internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, which resulted in the withdrawal of humanitarian agencies. The government announced plans for separate peace talks with a new rebel group that emerged at the end of the year.
2003 The emergence of two armed groups in early 2003, and their subsequent attacks on Sudanese government installations and military forces, inaugurated a year of intense fighting in the Darfur region of Western Sudan. Janjaweed militias, armed by the Sudanese government and reportedly supported by elements of the Sudanese military, undertook retaliatory attacks against rebel groups and civilian populations believed to be sympathetic to them, resulting in several thousand civilian deaths and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. A September ceasefire agreement between the government and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army failed to end the hostilities and was dissolved in December.
1. Government of Sudan: A power-sharing agreement has been in place since the signing of the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended a 22-year North-South civil war and established an interim Government of National Unity. Leadership includes President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of the National Congress Party and Salva Kiir Mayardit from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the political wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), who became First Vice-President of Sudan as well as the President of the autonomous Government of Southern Sudan which was established in October 2005. April 2010 elections saw both al-Bashir and Kiir re-elected in their respective posts. In 2011, a referendum was conducted, as per the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Settlement, to determine whether the South of Sudan would become independent. On Feb. 7, 2011 the results of the referendum were announced, with Southern Sudan voting overwhelmingly in favour of separation. South Sudan is to be officially declared an independent state on July 9, 2011. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes. A second warrant was issued by the ICC in July 2010 for his role in what has been deemed genocide. The government of Sudan has engaged rebels through the deployment of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). Sources estimate that as many as 40,000 troops are deployed in the Darfur area.
2. The Janjaweed: The government of Sudan has allied itself with various African tribes and militia fighters. The janjaweed, the largest of these groups, are militia fighters of Arab descent, mainly from the Darfur region, who have traditionally been allied with the government in Khartoum. It is alleged that these fighters have been armed, trained and financed by the government and fight on its behalf. The janjaweed have been accused of committing numerous atrocities against civilian populations in Darfur.
3. The United Front for Change (UFC): An alliance of Chadian insurgents led by Mahamat Nouri. The main objective of this group is to depose the Chadian President, Idriss Deby. The group reportedly fought alongside the Sudanese army in attacks that took place in January 2006. Nouri denies any involvement with the Sudanese army. In May 2010 Nouri broke with the UFC to form a new coalition, the National Alliance for Democratic Change (ANCD), which is predominantly active in Chad, but has allegedly received support from Khartoum.
Various Rebel Groups: Currently it is estimated that there are nine distinct rebel groups with estimates of as many as 14 to 19 factions. In 2009, according to reports, factions that splintered from larger rebel groups amalgamated to increase efficacy. This was primarily under the umbrella of JEM and the SLM/A. In 2010, many splinter factions joined together under the umbrella of the Liberation Justice Movement (LJM). The main rebel factions, made up of non-Arab primarily Muslim, fighters are:
4. The Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A): The SLM/A, the largest of the rebel groups, was known as the Darfur Liberation Movement prior to February 2003, and is a relatively new political group. It claims not to be fighting for independence for the region from Sudan, but for increased regional autonomy and a separation of state and religion. The SLA claims to have recruited 4,000 former government Arab militia soldiers. Its membership is divided along ethnic lines, composed of mainly Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit tribes. The SLM/A is divided into several factions, the most active being the SLA-AW (led by Abdel Wahid) and the SLA-MM (led by Minni Arkou Minnawi). In December 2010, the two factions fought together for the first time since 2004.
a) SLA-Abdel Wahid (SLA-AW): Led by Abdel Wahid, it is composed of mainly Fur, which constitutes roughly 30 per cent of Darfur’s population, and support from hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people living in IDP camps. SLA-AW controls much of the central Jebel Marra mountain area. They have refused to enter peace negotiations with the government of Sudan until Khartoum-backed violence ceases. The SLA-AW was not party to the 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) and has abstained from the Doha Peace Process.
b) SLA–Minni Faction (SLA-MM): Led by Minni Arkou Minnawi, this faction is comprised mainly of Zaghawa. SLA-MM was the only rebel group to sign onto the 2006 DPA, but has since declared it of no force and refused to participate in the Doha Peace Process. This has resulted in renewed hostilities between SLA-MM and the SAF.
c) SLA-Unity: SLA-Unity emerged at the end of the Abuja talks in 2006 as a loose, multitribal coalition of commanders, mainly from Northern Darfur. The faction grew out of dissatisfaction with the AW and MM SLA factions. It has since stressed the importance of good relations with tribal leaders and local people. SLA-Unity has close ties with JEM, both of which have been blamed for the Sept. 29 attack on an AU base. In 2009, SLA-Unity reportedly lost commanders and fighters to the Justice and Equality Movement but claims many of those who left were soon disillusioned with JEM and returned. [Small Arms Survey, 2009]
d) The Sudan Liberation Army also has smaller splinter factions (SLA-Juba, SLA-Mainstream and SLA- Khamis Abaker) which have joined the Sudan Liberation Revolutionary Forces under the umbrella of the Liberation and Justice Movement (see below).
5. The Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM): formed in February 2010, LJM is an umbrella group formed to negotiate in the Doha Peace Process. The group is led by Tijani Sese and consists of 2,000 lightly armed combatants. The LJM and the JEM are the only groups which have engaged in negotiations with the government of Sudan. ( SLA-AW and SLA –MM boycotted the talks.) It is comprised of two larger coalitions, the Sudan Liberation Revolutionary Forces (SLRF) and the Addis Ababa Group. Under the umbrella of the SLRF are: United Resistance Front (URFF), SLA-Field Leadership, SLA-Unity, SLA-Juba, SLA –Khamis Abaker, SLA Mainstream. The Addis Ababa Group includes dissidents from the URF, SLA-AW, SLA-Unity and SLA-Juba. The URF has reportedly received small arms from SLA–MM in return for fighting alongside SLA–MM and Darfur-based Chadian armed opposition groups against the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). In 2011, the Sudanese government and the LJM agreed to adopt the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur as well as a separate protocol on LJM’s political participation and the integration of its forces into the national army.
6. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM): formed in 2003 and led by Khalil Ibrahim, JEM is smaller than SLM/A, and although it seems to share similar objectives to those of the SLM/A, it has not articulated a clear political platform. Due to an increase in its military power, JEM became the largest threat to the Sudanese military forces in Darfur by the end of 2007. Currently JEM is comprised of 5,000 combatants and is heavily armed. The government of Sudan has accused JEM rebels of having ties to the Chadian government, though the group was expelled from Chad in February 2010. JEM has been involved in the Doha Peace Process.
7. The National Movement for Reform and Development: emerged in December 2004 and claims to have broken off from JEM over a leadership dispute. However JEM claims the rebel group is controlled by the Sudanese government.
8. The National Redemption Front (NRF): an alliance of four factions of the SLM/A and the JEM who refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement in May 2006. The new movement reportedly receives most of its arms from Chad and has emerged to provide a significant challenge to both government and janajaweed militia as it holds most of Northern Darfur. There are also reports that it has attacked an African Union supply convoy.
9. The Popular Forces Army (PFA): emerged at the end of 2006. It is composed of mainly Arab tribes who oppose the government and is based in Chad. Information regarding the size and logistical capacity of the group is currently unavailable.
10. Tribal Factions: Various ethnic tribes remain consistently involved in fighting, although their alliances do not always split clearly along ethnic lines. For example, reports suggest that members of the Gimir tribe have fought in major battles with both Sudanese government troops and JEM rebels. In-fighting among the Gimir tribe was reported to have resulted in 100 deaths in December 2008. This type of fighting is a testament to the complexity and fragmentation of the conflict in Darfur, and the inability to characterize it simply along ethnic lines.
11. The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID): has a mandate to operate until July 2011. UNAMID took over from UMIS (African Union Mission in Sudan) in Darfur in January 2008. As of Dec. 31, 2010, UNAMID had 17,200 troops, 247 military observers and 4,977. (UNAMID’s mandated full strength is 19,555 troops and 3,772 police). UNAMID and the government of Sudan have had a shaky relationship since its inception. One week into its mandate, a UNAMID convoy was attacked by government of Sudan forces. Although the government later called it a “mutual mistake,” the event foreshadowed Khartoum’s approach towards UNAMID. NGOs have reported that the government was chronically slow in passing equipment through customs (often taking months), in providing flight clearance (slowing the deployment when quick action was required), in offering promised security escorts (further undermining the safety of all parties) and in approving the list of countries proposing to contribute troops. (For this reason, UNAMID troops from Nepal and Thailand waited nearly a year before finally being deployed in late 2008.) On July 29 UNAMID extended its mandate for another 12 months.
2011 Overall, the year saw a significant decrease in violent clashes between government forces and rebel groups. UN-AU joint special representative in Darfur, Ibrahim Gambari, announced on September 14 that there was a 70-per-cent decrease in the number of attacks in Darfur this year. According to Human Rights Watch, early 2011 saw a surge in government-led attacks that killed and injured scores of civilians, destroyed property and displaced more than 70,000 people, largely from ethnic Zaghawa and Fur communities with perceived links to rebel groups. In January, JEM and SLM/A clashed with government forces on two occasions, with 21 killed in the first clash and a helicopter gunship shot down by rebel forces in the second. In February, UNAMID increased patrols and a quick reaction force to improve civilian protection after the increase in clashes early in the year. In June, August and November at least one UNAMID peacekeeper was killed in each month. In December, rebel group, Justice and Equality Movement, was dealt a blow when their leader, Khalili Ibrahim, was killed.
2010 There was an upsurge of government assaults against dissident rebel groups, even while peace talks continued, as well as fighting among rebel factions. The government launched assaults in the Jebel Marra region, a SLA-Abdel Wahid (SLA-AW) stronghold, displacing thousands. The Sudan Liberation Army accused the government of bombing rebel-controlled areas in January, February and September. Sudan Armed Forces denied these claims. In May, government forces seized the Jebel Moon stronghold, leading JEM to suspend peace talks. Fighting between government troops and rebels increased in May and June. Continued government offensives pushed rebel groups to boycott the peace process and renew hostilities. And the SLA–Minni Faction (SLA-MM) declared the 2006 peace agreement void. There were increased tensions between supporters and opposition to the Doha Peace Process.
2009 This year began with bombings in January and a skirmish over the strategic town of Muhajiriya between the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and government troops, causing thousands to seek refuge in UNAMID camps. In December, there was a rebel attack on UNAMID. Despite these skirmishes, the UN military commander in the region, General Martin Agwai, declared that the war in Darfur was effectively over and that only banditry and clashes over resources remained. His comments drew anger and criticism from observers and Western campaigners, who insisted Khartoum could restart violence at any time. According to reports, a number of factions from the major rebel groups were reuniting, joined by Arab groups who had previously been associated with the government.
2008 The conflict in Darfur grew increasingly multifaceted, with fighting between and within government forces, militias, rebels, civilians and tribes. The targeting of humanitarian workers increased. Government airstrikes continued in Darfur despite condemnation from the international community. One such offensive killed 200 people in February. The UN subsequently accused the government of indiscriminate attacks and intentionally destroying villages. The UN reported 21 airstrikes in July alone. In May, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels attacked the capital Khartoum for the first time in 30 years, killing an estimated 465 people. Humanitarian organizations, increasingly being targeted, began to limit and even stop their work. In the first nine months of 2008, 170 humanitarian workers were abducted. The UN removed non-essential staff from the region. In August, the government carried out a police raid, ostensibly to obtain arms, at an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Kalma, killing between 50 and 122 people and injuring up to 200. The new African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), was functioning at half its mandate, and only half of its 13,000 personnel were armed soldiers. An estimated 300,000 people were displaced in 2008, and an estimated 4 million people were in need of some sort of aid.
2007 The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called for an investigation into the involvement of Sudanese security forces in attacks on villages in Southern Darfur that killed more than 100 people between January and May. The United Nations called for an end to air raids by Sudanese forces. Violence continued to escalate and the number of relief workers in Darfur declined by 16 per cent. April was the deadliest month of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) after the death of 10 soldiers. The janjaweed militia reduced attacks on civilians. But intimidation, cutting off of necessary supplies, including access to water, replaced outright attacks. Dozens of former janjaweed reportedly switched sides and joined rebel groups after the government failed to deliver on promises of land, cattle and money. Despite shifts in tactics and alliances, violence and insecurity continued throughout the Darfur region and widespread militarization continued in refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. Tribal clashes over access to scarce resources, including land and water, added to the violence. More than 4.2 million people have been affected by the fighting.
2006 Violence continued to escalate at an unprecedented rate throughout 2006. In July, attacks resulted in the highest number of fatalities since the conflict began in 2003. The Darfur Peace Agreement was signed in Abuja, Nigeria, in May 2006. But both the government and rebel factions continued to clash. The Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) split into numerous factions, which began to attack each other and to commit atrocities against the civilian population. Rebels continued to recruit child soldiers in refugee camps. The government responded by deploying more janjaweed militia forces. Sudanese rebels said militiamen from Chad, aligned with Khartoum, were carrying out attacks against civilians. The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) remained under-funded and ill-equipped. But Khartoum refused to allow United Nations peacekeeping forces into the Darfur region, citing a “neo-colonialist” agenda. At year’s end, Khartoum approved a UN light intelligence force. Attacks on AU personnel and humanitarian aid workers increased significantly.
2005 Attacks on villages and, for the first time, refugee camps continued with the janjaweed militia responsible for a majority of the attacks. Clashes took place between rebels and the janjaweed militia and between rival factions of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Although violence was down compared to past years, in September it escalated as rebels increasingly clashed with government forces. The conflict spilled over into neighbouring Chad when janjaweed militants attacked villages in Chad and clashed with the Chadian army, killing dozens.
2004 A ceasefire agreement was violated by all parties with fighting between rebels and government forces and government bombings of civilian villages. Internally displaced persons (IDP) camps were attacked, leading to the withdrawal of humanitarian agencies. Sudanese army and police reportedly forcibly relocated displaced people out of camps, contravening international law and Sudan’s agreements with the United Nations.
2003 February attacks by the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) on government forces in Western Darfur were met with retaliation by janjaweed militia fighters, armed and supported by Sudanese military forces. Despite several ceasefire agreements between the government and the SLM/A, fighting continued. Later in the year, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) emerged to conduct small-scale military operations against government institutions and forces in Darfur. The majority of clashes were raid-like operations, conducted primarily with small arms and light weapons. However, janjaweed raids on villages suspected of being sympathetic to the rebels were also coupled with air-bombing campaigns, allegedly undertaken by the Sudanese military. The indiscriminate nature of the warfare killed thousands, mostly civilian. Additionally, the destruction of thousands of villages led to the displacement, both internally and externally, of more than half a million people. The majority of news reports portrayed the Arab janjaweed militias as the primary aggressors in the conflict against the largely non-Arab populations and rebel groups in Darfur, leading many analysts to label the conflict as a genocide, a claim hotly contested by Sudanese officials.
Total: The total number of conflict-related fatalities since 2003 is estimated to be between 200,000 and 400,000. The UN estimate—the most widely accepted figure—places the death toll at 300,000 from the combined effects of conflict. This figure has been recognized as a valid high-end estimate by the WHO Collaboration Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). According to CRED, a low-end estimate is 150,000. Amnesty International has reported more than 90,000 killed in combat and another 200,000 dead from malnutrition, disease and other conflict-related causes. Between 2.3 and 2.7 million people have fled their homes or have been displaced as a result of the conflict. The government of Sudan reports an estimated 10,000 have been killed. Obtaining reliable fatality figures is difficult because of the dearth of independent observers in the Darfur region.
2011 According to International Crisis Group, 80 Sudan Armed Forces and rebel fighters were killed this year. Lack of access to high-conflict areas meant fatalities, especially civilian fatalities, were likely significantly higher than reported.
2010 According to a report released by the United Nations Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2,300 were killed as a result of the conflict. In May alone, 597 people were killed after the Justice and Equality Movement’s withdrawal from peace talks.
2009 An estimated 100 people were killed in the conflict.
2008 More than 1,000 people were killed by the Darfur conflict in 2008. In Khartoum, an additional 465 people, including 57 civilians, were killed after an attempted coup by Darfur rebels.
2007 An estimated 1,200 to 2,000 people were killed this year. Civilian fatalities decreased by 70 per cent in the first half of 2007 compared with the same period last year. Conflict-related fatalities averaged between 100 and 200 per month.
2006 In 2006, fatalities reached 2003 levels. An estimated 1,000 to 1,500 people were killed. July was the deadliest month for humanitarian aid workers, with eight reported killed. The AU peacekeeping mission suffered numerous fatalities when rebel forces attacked convoys and targeted personnel. In October, according to the United Nations, government-supported forces attacked 45 villages in the Darfur region within a span of a few days, reportedly killing hundreds of civilians.
2005 More than 1,000 people were reported killed this year.
2004 At least 350 people were killed by fighting in 2004. This is a conservative figure due to the limited presence of independent observers in Darfur.
2003 An estimated 5,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed by fighting in Darfur in 2003. Due to the absence of independent observers in Darfur, it is impossible to verify this figure. Some analysts have indicated that the death toll may be much higher.
2011 According to Human Rights Watch, much of Darfur remained off limits to AU-UN forces and aid organizations. In February, South Darfur governor Abdel Hamid Kasha expelled French aid group Medicine du Monde, accusing them of supporting the rebel group, SLM/A. Medicine du Monde was one of the last aid groups working in the central Jabel Marra region, a rebel stronghold and the scene of recent clashes. In July, UNAMID extended its mandate for another 12 months. Also in July, the Sudanese government and the Liberty and Justice Movement agreed to adopt the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur as well as a separate protocol on LJM’s political participation and the integration of its forces into the national army. Key rebel factions refuse to sign the agreement (including the SLM/A), leading analysts to conclude there is little hope the agreement will lead to any sort of comprehensive and sustainable peace for Darfur.
2010 The year saw presidential elections, normalizing of relations with Chad and the re-initiation of peace talks between Khartoum and Darfur rebel groups. In Sudan’s first multiparty elections in 24 years, President Omar al-Bashir was re-elected with 68 per cent of the vote and South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit was re-elected with 93 per cent of the vote. Though the elections were heavily criticized by international observers, the results were accepted. In February, Chad and Sudan announced an end to hostilities and renewed co-operation, as well as the establishment of a joint border force comprised of 3,000 troops. Peace talks between rebel groups Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) began in Doha to replace the 2006 peace deal and end the eight-year conflict. JEM pulled out of the peace process in May, citing continuing government attacks, but returned to negotiations in October. The SLA-Abdel Wahid (SLA-AW) did not participate in the peace talks, nor did the SLA-Minni Faction (SLA-MM). SLA-MM formally denounced the peace process and pulled out of the 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement—it was the only rebel group to have signed the 2006 deal. Khartoum announced internal peace processes with tribal leaders, civil society groups and other local actors to settle conflict. In July, the International Criminal Court issued a second arrest warrant for al-Bashir, including charges of genocide.
2009 In March, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir expelled 13 international and three local NGOs, accusing them of being spies for the International Criminal Court. The NGOs employed approximately 6,000 people, most of whom were Sudanese, and were responsible for the distribution of one-third of the World Food Programme’s aid and 50 per cent of all of humanitarian aid efforts. Al-Bashir vowed to replace the NGOs with local organizations, calling this the Sudanization of humanitarian relief. In July, the UN Security Council extended the mission in Darfur by one year, despite UNAMID’s inability to effectively protect civilians. The Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) called the upcoming 2010 elections a façade meant to hide the atrocities in Darfur and warned election officials entering their territory they faced the risk of attack. In July, a number of rebel groups came together in Cairo to sign an accord endorsing a transitional government.
2008 On July 14, a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) presented evidence against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for 10 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and requested a warrant for his arrest. As in the cases of Ahmad Muhammad Harun and Ali Kishayb, the Sudanese government dismissed the charges. But the government responded with several measures to improve its image and demonstrate commitment to peace: a program for dialogue known as the Sudan People’s Initiative in October, engaging in an Arab League peace plan led by Qatar, promising increased commitment to UNAMID deployment and accountability and even declaring an unconditional ceasefire for Darfur in November. But rebel groups largely boycotted these measures, calling for militia disarmament as a first step before ceasefire and movement of the existing Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). In light of Khartoum’s history of breaking promises, these measures were criticized by some as “fully reversible.” Nonetheless, African and Arab states, and even many of al-Bashir’s political opponents within Sudan, asked the ICC to delay its proceedings, fearing that Bashir’s indictment would lead to a breakdown of the DPA (with its provision for 2009 elections), as well as a backlash against UNAMID, humanitarian efforts and even civilian populations within Sudan. Meanwhile, a last-minute vote in the UN Security Council extended UNAMID’s mandate through July 31, 2009.
2007 In February, a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) presented evidence against Ahmad Muhammad Harun (the Sudanese state minister for humanitarian affairs) and Ali Kishayb (janjaweed leader) for war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out against civilian populations in West Darfur between 2003 and 2004. The government of Sudan rejects the authority of the ICC The UN human rights mission also accused the government of orchestrating and taking part in war crimes in Darfur and urged the international community to provide immediate action to protect civilians in the region. On July 31, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to pass resolution 1769, which mandates that a joint UN-AU force composed of 26,000 troops and police be sent to Darfur. The resolution included provisions allowing the use of force to protect civilians. The newly formed UNAMID was set to take over from AMIS on Jan. 1, 2008, despite repeated setbacks caused by a lack of co-operation from the government of Sudan, as well as a lack of logistical support. Several attempts were made to assist the rebels in forming a common position in preparation for holding further peace talks between the government and non-signatory rebel groups who refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement. Five rebel groups met in Ndjamena, the capital of Chad, however Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and six factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) boycotted the talks, and limited progress was made. Tensions among Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic continued and many feared that the large refugee populations fleeing Darfur would contribute to further insecurity in the region. Calls for sanctions against Sudan over the situation in Darfur began to grow louder in the international community.
2006 In May, internationally mediated peace talks resulted in the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) by the faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) led by Minni Minnawi. However, a rival SPLM/A faction led by Abdelwahid Muhamed El Nur, as well as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), refused to sign. They felt concessions granted to the peoples of Darfur were inadequate. The agreement granted the fourth-highest-ranking position in government to a person from Darfur, and had a provision to disarm the janjaweed militia. Despite this agreement, atrocities continued and the janjaweed was not disarmed. At the end of 2006, it appeared the DPA was being largely ignored by both sides. In addition, further splits between factions of the SLM/A resulted in inter-group violence. Throughout the year, Khartoum repeatedly affirmed that it would not allow a UN peacekeeping force in the Darfur region, despite the inadequacy of the AU mission. But in December 2006, Khartoum agreed to allow the UN to provide a Light Intelligence Force composed mainly of logistics personnel to reinforce the AU mission. Tensions along the Chad and Central African Republic borders continued to fuel fears that conflict in Darfur could destabilize the entire region.
2005 Negotiations between the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel groups and the Sudan government continued, but made little progress. Parallel negotiations between rebel factions began in an effort to establish unity among rival rebel factions. A UN Security Council investigation found that war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed in Darfur and recommended 51 people, including government officials, rebel and militia leaders, face trial at the International Criminal Court.
2004 Two weak UN resolutions called on the parties to cease hostilities and uphold humanitarian law. A UN panel was appointed to investigate claims of genocide in Darfur, an African Union force was strengthened and peace talks culminated in the signing of a November agreement. But violence persisted and a new party to the conflict emerged during the year.
2003 After the government’s early dismissal of the rebels as common criminals and outlaws, officials began ceasefire negotiations with the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), mediated by Chadian government officials and leading to a September agreement. Violence continued throughout Darfur for the remainder of the year, and the ceasefire was dissolved in December. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) refused peace talks with the government over concerns that the Chadian mediators were biased towards the Sudanese government. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which has been fighting the Sudanese military for more than 20 years, voiced support for the rebels in Darfur, but there was no confirmed link between the SPLA and the SLM/A or JEM.
The Darfur region of Western Sudan has experienced conflict for decades.
Clashes have traditionally been between nomadic herdsmen, who are primarily of Arab-descent, and sedentary farmers, who are primarily indigenous to the region. These disputes have usually been over access to land and water resources, and have in the past been resolved locally through traditional means.
With the outset of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) rebellion in Southern Sudan in the 1980s, the Sudanese government provided the Arab population in Darfur with arms and employed them to act as Khartoum-friendly militias.
The intensification and continuation of the Southern rebellion, which was fought along ethnic lines (the Northern Sudanese who are of Arab-descent versus the largely black African population of Southern Sudan), along with Khartoum’s involvement in Darfur, transformed the Darfur region’s traditional, low-intensity resource conflicts into the high-intensity, ethnically driven armed violence of 2003.
Although the Darfur Peace Agreement was signed in May 2006, its provisions have largely been ignored as all factions continued to commit atrocities against the civilian population.
In the late 1980’s Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi supported the armed group Islamic Legion, which fought an unsuccessful battle against the government of Chad. The first janjaweed Arab militias were among those fighting with the Gaddafi-supported forces. After the end of the conflict, the janjaweed returned to their home region of Darfur and brought with them the weapons from the Chadian conflict.
In 2010, various rebel factions agreed to enter negotiations with the Khartoum government in an attempt to end the eight-year conflict.
In 2011, the Sudanese government and the Liberty and Justice Movement agreed to adopt the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur as well as a separate protocol on LJM’s political participation and the integration of its forces into the national army. Key rebel factions refuse to sign the agreement (including the SLM/A), leading analysts to conclude there is little hope the agreement will lead to any sort of comprehensive and sustainable peace for Darfur.
The janjaweed and other Arab militias are alleged to have been armed by the Sudanese government, first to fight against the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), and later to engage non-Arab populations in Darfur. The janjaweed and the rebel forces are armed primarily with small arms. Sudanese government officials have claimed that the Darfur rebel groups have received arms and training from the SPLA. Analysts cite the existence of vast quantities of small arms in Darfur, in other areas of Sudan and in the greater region in general as being a major source of weapons for all parties to the conflict.
Since 2005, Darfur has been placed under an arms embargo. Despite the embargo, weapons continue to flow in, primarily from China. In a report released by the United Nations in 2006, China was cited as a major arms supplier to the Darfur conflict.
The Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) receive vast quantities of weapons from Chad, Eritrea and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. The government of Eritrea has been cited for providing arms, logistical support, military training and political support to both JEM and the SLM/A. Eritrea has also reportedly provided training for the two groups in camps across the Eritrea-Sudan border. The situation between Chad and Sudan has been described as a proxy war, as both governments continue to accuse each other of providing neighbouring rebels with arms.
According to the UN Comtrade database, at least 34 countries exported small arms, light weapons and ammunition valued at almost $70-million (U.S.) to Sudan between 1992 and 2005. Ninety-six per cent of the reported transfers were from China and Iran. Because these reports don’t include illegal trading, the volume is likely significantly higher.
There are an estimated 1.9 to 3.2 million small arms in circulation in Sudan. Two-thirds of the weapons are held by citizens, 20 per cent by the government of Sudan and the remainder is divided between the government of South Sudan and current and former armed groups.
A confidential UN report released in 2007 accused the government of Sudan of flying in arms and heavy military equipment to Darfur in an attempt to cut the supply of arms to all parties of the Darfur conflict. The report stated that the government disguised military planes by painting them white to transport the arms and equipment, in violation of the arms embargo. Amnesty International released photographs showing the use of Russian-supplied military helicopters by Sudanese troops and published trade figures from 2005 demonstrating that China sold $24-million (U.S.) and Russia sold $21-million worth of military supplies to Sudan that year.
The government of Sudan is permitted to conduct humanitarian flights into Darfur but only with UN permission, which has never been sought.
Both the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have cited the lack of economic development in the Darfur region as a source of their dissatisfaction.
According to the United Nations Human Development Report for 2010, Sudan ranks 154 on the Human Development Index.
The largely pastoral Arab populations and the mainly sedentary non-Arab populations in Darfur have historically clashed over land and water resources.
Most of Sudan’s oil production is located in the South. The government was awarded three new oil concessions in the Darfur region in 2007, which it may attempt to utilize when the South becomes independent in July 2011. Losing oil revenues from the South will cost Sudan an estimated $6-billion (U.S.) in revenue per year.
map: CIA Factbook