Conflict in Darfur: Response and Recovery

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SEATTLE — The war in Darfur is an ongoing armed conflict that began in 2003. The United Nations once deemed the it “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” The conflict began when two rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), rose up against the Sudanese government. They cited economic marginalization and unequal treatment, among other grievances, as the motivation for their revolt.

Since then, more than 2.3 million people have been displaced as a result of the conflict and 480,000 have died. Much of the annihilation was a product of ethnic cleansing, rendering the Sudanese conflict a genocide. Although the United Nations proclaimed the end of the conflict in 2009, fighting persists today in the region. However, recovery response from many groups is essential to saving and improving the lives of millions in the region.

The U.S. government’s financial and social intervention has played a crucial role in improving the lives of individuals living in Darfur. Beginning with the Bush administration in 2004, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and George W. Bush openly deemed the conflict in Darfur a genocide. As such, the Bush administration consistently affirmed the protection of humanitarian aid.

Though they emphasized the potential for confrontation, they strove for the restoration of peace by heightening economic sanctions as a form of penalty for Sudanese actions. The Obama administration not only maintained these heightened economic sanctions, but also stationed 20,000 peacekeeping troops in the nation, promoting peaceful recovery.

The United Nations has further influenced response and recovery by providing the largest current relief effort in the world for the conflict-affected people living in Sudan. Since 2007, it has provided more than $650 million in aid and supplied 12,000 humanitarian workers from organizations such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Their efforts have combated malnutrition and decreased mortality rates.

In addition, organizations like Save Darfur have provided incredible aid to the region. Its goals include establishing protection, peace and accountability in the region. In particular, the United to End Genocide organization strives to gain citizen involvement in a variety of ways. Much like The Borgen Project, it encourages individuals to call and email Congress, provide activist resources and strive to engage policymakers, encouraging them to support civilians affected by the conflict in Darfur.

Thus, although response and recovery regarding the conflict in Darfur takes shape through government action, U.N. involvement and NGO intervention, the results are clear: continued support for the Darfuri people is critical to their survival. It is necessary to pay attention to the implications of this global crisis and to get involved by mobilizing to make a difference.

Emily Chazen
Photo: Flickr

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