Looking Back at Darfur. What happened, who was at the core of the violence and where do we go from here. Special Interview with Brian Steidle on Room101.
Brian Steidle, co-author of The Devil Came On Horseback, talks about his experiences in Western Sudan. Brain is a former U.S. Marine Captain and spent 6 months working for the African Union in Darfur as an observer. He took photos and wrote reports about the genocide taking place in front of his eyes. But no one seemed to care, so he took matters into his own hands. He left Sudan with the photos he had taken and headed back to the United States to raise the alarm. He joins G Living Host, Sarah Backhouse in our Room101. Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
We are all aware of the humanitarian crisis taking place in Darfur. We know it began in back 2003 after Africans rebel groups The Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attacked the Arab dominated government after years of marginalization and oppression. We also know that the government responded by backing an Arab militia, the Janjaweed, to burn down entire villages and commit atrocities on its African inhabitants. And we know the horrifying statistics: 2.5 million plus displaced; over 450,000 killed.
But what we may not know why this genocide is taking place.
Is it religious?
No. Of Sudan’s 40 million people, 70% are Sunni Muslim, 25% are Animist and 5% are Christian. However, both groups in the current conflict are black, indigenous and largely Muslim.
Is it political?
Yes. The factors behind the conflict are complex but political marginalization was a trigger. The Arab dominated government in Khartoum has long neglected its ethnic African population, which resulted in a lack of infrastructure such as schools, health services and roads.
Is there conflict over resources?
Yes. There has been a long tradition of rivalry between the African farmers to the South and Arab herders to the North. Environmental factors like drought and desertification has intensified this rivalry by placing more pressure on its inhabitants for land and water.
(Looking back at 2006 when George Clooney and his father, traveled to Sudan to see for themselves what was happening)
George Clooney has been speaking out in Washington to urge aid for the Darfur Crisis. George along with his dad Nick Clooney smuggled cameras into the Darfur refugee camps in April 2006 for five days to report on the genocide first hand. Over 200,000 have been killed and over 2 million have fled their homes since 2003.
Yesterday, George Clooney addressed the U.N. Security Council to urge them to send peacemakers to Sudan’s Darfur Region to prevent genocide. Clooney warned them if they did not, millions will die in what he called the first genocide of the 21st century.
Clooney told the council members, “It’s not getting better. It’s getting much, much worse.
And it is only the international community that can help us. Now, I know there are members of you here that, for what I’m sure are sensible reasons, have failed to use leverage at times to keep the — to get the peacekeepers on the ground. Well, we now have a date. The date is September 30. The 1st of October will leave these people with nothing. Whatever the reason, it’s not good enough. On October 1, it won’t just be the Janjaweed murdering and raping with impunity or Minnawi’s SLA slaughtering the Fur tribes.