Thursday, January 01, 2009

Darfur: The tragedy continues

WHILE THE CURTAIN descends on 2008, a great tragedy continues to play out unabated onstage: genocide in Darfur. Since 2003, more than 300,000 people have died in the western Sudan region and 2.7 million have been forced to flee their homes. The world's response? Impotence.

The Darfurian conflict is the latest segment in a half-century of strife in Sudan. A war between the largely Muslim north and the Christian south escalated in 1983 after the north tried to impose Muslim law on the entire nation. That violence killed nearly 2 million people and left millions homeless or orphaned. A 2005 treaty ended the conflict and gave the south autonomy for six years, after which a referendum will determine the region's fate.

As the north-south conflagration began to die down, hostilities between Arab and black Sudanese heated up. The janjaweed militia, Arabs armed by the government and riding horses or camels, raided Darfurian villages, killed the men, raped the women, and forced survivors to flee to camps farther west, or across the border in Chad. Their intent was "ethnic cleansing," reducing the number of blacks or diluting their race through rape.

Even in the camps, the Darfurians are not safe. Women and girls who venture away from camp looking for firewood are raped and/or abducted and used as sexual slaves, according to the human rights group Darfur Consortium. For those in the camps, disease, famine, and hopelessness are their daily fare. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

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