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Slavery and ethnic killing in Darfur. Again

  • Rebecca Tinsley

Child's drawing from Waging Peace

Child's drawing from Waging Peace

Ethnic slaughter is taking place in Darfur on a scale reminiscent of the genocide of 2003-5. Peace campaigners say that the Janjaweed, who were responsible for the killing of 400,000 of Sudan's Black Africans two decades ago, have stepped up their efforts to eliminate non-Arab tribes, knowing the world's attention is elsewhere.

Vicky Ford MP, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sudan, is asking why the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which hosts next month's COP28 event, is supplying the Janjaweed with weapons. Ford has tabled a question, highlighting the hypocrisy of the UAE's public relations image, promoted in the run up to the environmental conference, contrasting it with the reality of its war-mongering.

The New York Times has published evidence that the UAE regularly supplies the Janjaweed, now rebranded as the RSF, (the Rapid Support Forces) with armaments via neighbouring Chad.

A recent report from the American news channel CNN has broadcast graphic evidence of mass graves in Darfur and the enslavement of girls and women by the RSF. Sudan specialists say the images echo the same pattern of ethnically targeted killing as happened twenty years ago. No one has ever been brought to justice for the displacement of three million Darfuris or the systematic rape of women.

Last week, the Troika negotiators (UK, US and Norway) condemned the violence in Darfur, acknowledging that there is credible evidence of mass graves and other massive human rights violations against civilians. Several months ago, the death toll in one Darfur city alone was estimated as 10,000.

The RSF began fighting the Sudanese Armed Forces in April this year, with each group wishing to secure control of the nation's natural resources (gold, gum Arabic and oil). Yet as recently as October 2021, the two military forces worked together to overthrow a fledgling government that was trying to transition Sudan from an Islamist dictatorship to a democracy. In the eight months since they fell out, the RSF and the Army have laid waste to the capital Khartoum, forcing millions of civilians to flee their homes. Survivors tell of looting, indiscriminate shelling and devastation of infrastructure. Churches have been destroyed or confiscated by armed groups, and the violence against civilians has spread south to the Kordofan region and west to Darfur.

Activists say that the international community lost interest in Sudan's conflict once the last diplomats and ex-patriots were evacuated. Since then, there has been little media coverage of the bloodshed or the waves of internally displaced people and refugees fleeing their homes.

Both the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces have a track record of trying to eliminate the Black African ethnic groups from Sudan in an attempt to "change the demography" of the religiously and ethnically diverse population.

Peace campaigners say the death toll in Darfur is hard to estimate because communications are unreliable and journalists cannot gain access to a region the size of France. The NGO Waging Peace works with the Sudanese diaspora in the UK. They report that the RSF have been systematically killing men and boys over the age of ten, raping women and destroying infrastructure in Darfur. The UN has revealed the existence of several mass graves, calling for international action to stop the slaughter.

Readers of ICN can view the graphic and disturbing CNN report here:

Waging Peace is urging readers to write to their MPs, asking for their concerns to be passed along to Lord Cameron at the Foreign Office. Although the FCDO has called on the UAE to desist from supporting the RSF, their words have had no effect. Therefore it may be more effective to sanction the UAE in the run-up to COP28 as it spends heavily to present a positive image to the world. Readers may wish to ask their MPs to call on the new Foreign Secretary to work with international partners to bring serious pressure to bear on the UAE.


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