The unfolding humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, where in the past year fighting has caused the death of 50,000 people and forced over a million to flee their homes, has once again brought to light the overwhelming challenge of ensuring the protection of vulnerable people and communities in Africa. Oxfam has calculated that in the past ten years, 77 percent of all deaths due to armed conflict have occurred in Africa. Project Ploughshares’ 2004 Armed Conflicts Report reveals that of 42 percent of armed conflicts in 2003 were in Africa. Ten years after the Rwandan genocide, it remains clear that the response to such conflict is woefully inadequate. Despite numerous commitments to tackle the causes of conflict, many underlying conditions have not been reversed. In addition, massive new challenges to security and development threaten to further destabilize large parts of the continent.
Since September 2003, Project Ploughshares, the Africa Peace Forum (APF) and the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) have hosted a series of consultations in East and West Africa with both government and non-government actors. In this way, they have endeavoured to develop a more effective African and international response to serious humanitarian crises in Africa.