There have been many clear indications in recent years that the central issue in negotiating a successful peace agreement for Darfur is the safe return of displaced African (non-Arab) farmers to lands that have been violently expropriated from them by Arab militias or groups of armed Arab men who have participated in these violent land seizures.
I have provided on a continuing basis extensive detail about the character of these land seizures; and for the period November 2014 – November 2015 I accumulated and mapped particulalry extensive, detailed data indicating the scope of this violence:
“Changing the Demography”: Violent Expropriation and Destruction of Farmlands in Darfur, November 2014 – November 2015,” December 1, 2015 | Eric Reeves, author; Maya Baca, research and editing | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1P4
There are over 500 data entries for a period of one year, mapped over the three main administrative areas of Darfur: North Darfur, South Darfur, West Darfur (“East Darfur” is essentially a “carve-out” from South Darfur; “Central Darfur” is essentially a “carve-out” from West Darfur). The report itself makes clear just how violent the expropriation of land in Darfur has been, and how difficult it will be to remove those armed Arab forces who seized the lands, many of them not from Sudan, but Arab migrants from Chad, Niger, and Mali—assisted in their resettlement by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime in Khartoum.
Rape and sexual violence have been a defining feature of these seizures of farmlands and the means by which girls and women have been prevented from returning to their lands to work them (men returning are more likely to be murdered). Here again, I have provided extensive detail about the character and extent of sexual violence for the period January 2014 – December 2015:
“Continuing Mass Rape of Girls in Darfur: The most heinous crime generates no international outrage,” January 2016 | Eric Reeves, author; Maya Baca, research and editing | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1QG
And again, there are hundreds of data entries in a spreadsheet that has been mapped onto the three main administrative units of Darfur; there is also an extensive bibliography of the reporting on rape and sexual violence as a weapon in the genocidal counter-insurgency war waged by the Khartoum regime since 2003. The first significant report on rape came from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (Holland) in 2005—over twelve years ago. The aggregated data, along with the many reports of the past twelve years, together clearly indicate that many tens of thousands of Darfuri girls and women have been raped; some girls have been as young as eight years old. A tremendous number of the victims have suffered significant physical injury (rapes are often brutal gang rapes), and the psychological trauma is simply unfathomable and incalculable. The destruction of the social fabric of families and villages is similarly incalculable and will stand as one of the very grimmest legacies of the Darfur genocide, in which the racial/ethnic animus of sexual violence has always been all too clear.
A Future Without Peace
The implications of massive violent expropriation of African farmland and the consequences of the ongoing epidemic of sexual violence are impossible to overstate. And yet no peace process to date, no proposed peace process, and indeed no commentary on a Darfur peace process takes account of the challenges posed by these terrible realities. In other words, there is no realistic plan or process for peace in Darfur. As a consequence, the future looks as grim as the past.
And if Khartoum pursues its repeatedly declared plans to dismantle the camps for displaced persons, there will me an immediate and massive crisis: these displaced persons—overwhelmingly from the African (non-Arab) populations of Darfur—will have no lands to return to. Several thousand African villages have been destroyed in their entirety by violence earlier in the genocide; thousands more have been at least partially destroyed. And the violence continues, if on a lesser scale because of previous extremely high levels of destruction. Security remains extremely poor throughout Darfur, and violence can re-emerge rapidly even in areas that may have enjoyed a temporary respite.
Moreover, the already severely attenuated humanitarian relief efforts in Darfur will collapse with widespread dismantling of the camps: people will be forced to flee to areas too insecure for humanitarian organizations to reach, and these people will not longer be concentrated—as they are in the camps—in ways that make possible organized delivery of food, medical care, and resources for clean water and adequate hygiene. There are approximately 2.7 million Internally Displaced Persons in Darfur, according to the UNand some 320,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad—together almost half the pre-war population of Darfur, and again, overwhelming from the African tribal groups of Darfur.
Mortality in Darfur—which already stands at approximately 600,000 dead from violence(direct and indirect) over the past fifteen years (see | me/p45rOG-AB/)—will skyrocket. Instead of peace for the region, the Darfur genocide may be entering its most destructive phase.
Yet none of this informs the policy decisions of major international actors: the UN, the African Union, the U.S., the European Union, or rich and significant countries such as Canada, Japan, Canada, Israel, and Australia. Other important international actors from the Arab world, Latin America, and Asia stand silent and acquiescent. Moreover, for their part, China and Russia continue to stand allied with the Khartoum regime in the UN Security Council and on the broader world stage. Khartoum stands intransigent, having recently been rewarded by the Obama and Trump administrations with the lifting of longstanding U.S. economic sanctions.
(c) SUDAN Research, Analysis, and Advocacy