n Conflict Trends - Ideology and cultural violence in Darfur

Volume 2016, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


Since its independence in 1956, Sudan has been ravaged by war. For residents of the western-most state in the country, Darfur, the war has led to ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. During the peak years of the war, 2003-2005, the Sudanese Air Force struck villages using assault helicopters and Russian-made Antonov bombers. Ground forces followed aerial attacks with infantry assaults, targeting ethnic tribes that the Sudanese government accused of supporting rebel resistance movements. Three ethnic tribes received the brunt of these assaults: the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa. The perpetrators included the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), as well as the Arab militia group known as the Janjaweed. From a sociological perspective, the Janjaweed is comprised of a loose consolidation of five subgroups: former bandits, demobilised government soldiers, young members of Arab tribes, common criminals and young unemployed Arab men. The term originally meant "horsemen with G [Jim] guns", and later evolved to mean "devil on a horse". The attackers systematically killed men, raped women and abducted children; they also targeted essential resources, destroying livestock, torching fields, poisoning wells and levelling health clinics and schools. According to United Nations (UN) reports, more than 300 000 Darfuri civilians have been killed since 2003, and approximately 3 000 000 people were forcibly exiled.

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