Let’s start from the beginning.
Darfur is a region the size of Texas in the west of Sudan.
The country of Sudan is located in the north east of Africa where, because of it’s proximity to the Arabian peninsula, the population is a mix of ethnic Arabians and Africans. Its capital is Khartoum.
Sudan has been plagued by civil wars since before it gained its independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956 – its history is a long and complicated one. Since 2003, the government of Sudan and the Arab militias they support have been conducting a “scorched-earth” campaign aimed at the black African population living in Darfur. The goal was to squash a rebellion led by the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLA) and later the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) against the wealthy and oppressive government. The Sudanese government enlisted some of the nomadic Arab tribes to be their militias, ensuring their cooperation by offering them land and exploiting concerns about their livelihood. By doing this, it “Arabized” the conflict, making it a matter of race between the tribal groups.
The Arab militias – the self-named “Janjaweed” or ‘”Devil on Horseback” – have been utilizing racial supremacy ideologies to justify wiping entire villages, destroying water and food supplies, and systematically murdering, torturing, and raping hundreds of thousands of Darfuri civilians.
Through direct violence, disease, and starvation, this action by the government has already claimed as many as 300,000 lives and has caused about 2.3 millions Darfuris to flee their homes and communities. The internally displaced persons (IDPs) now reside in a network of IDP camps within Darfur. Some of those fleeing the conflict have gone to neighboring Chad and live in refugee camps there. The IDP’s and refugees are completely dependent on the UN and other humanitarian organizations for their food, water, shelter, and health care, and are vulnerable to attack, murder and rape.
In 2004, both Houses of the US Congress agreed in a unanimous vote that “the atrocities unfolding in Darfur, Sudan are genocide.” The UN has indicted Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity which include murder, torture and attacks against civilian populations, but the country refuses to turn him over to the International Criminal Court.
Since the separation of Sudan into two countries, Sudan and South Sudan, on July 9, 2011, nothing has changed for Darfur.
In fact, since the succession the border of the two countries has become another conflict zone. The government of Sudan has taken aggressive military actions against civilians in the border towns of South Kordofan and Abyei and displaced over 200,000 people.
It has been said that America stood back and watched the 1994 genocide occur in Rwanda, and that country is still recovering. The genocide in Sudan has been continuing unchecked since 2005. What our role is as a country may or may not be so black and white as it seems. Our role as individuals is. An entire group of people is being targeted and brutally murdered because of the color of their skin. Children are being raped and murdered, infants crushed or shot-through in their mothers arms. Kids are starving to death as they walk with their families to find food, water, and shelter after the Janjaweed bomb their homes to the ground. These people are innocent, and God’s heart is broken by this.
Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Pure evil is running unabated and destroying millions of lives, and the echoes of the damage done will be heard for generations. Any time there are innocent lives being violently and unnecessarily ended, Christians should be the loudest voices of protest. It doesn’t matter where people live, their nationality, race, or religion – Jesus commanded us to love with same full and sacrificial love He loved us with. I believe anything less is a sin, and to ignore a genocide out of comfort or convenience certainly is.
The easiest way to help bring an end to this crisis is to support one of the organizations actively fighting to end it, like Enough, or the Satellite Sentinel Project. Obviously, they would love your donations, but following them on Twitter, “Liking” them on Facebook, and subscribing and sharing their email newsletters is a great start. They occasionally send out important and time sensitive updates that allow you to take a part in some of the policy making in our country, it’s a wonderful opportunity to make sure that issues that are important get the appropriate attention. Also, exercise your rights as a citizen in a democracy, call the president and let him know how you feel about the situation – it makes a difference, he listens. Write emails, or better, hand-write letters, to your representatives telling them what you think they should be doing about Darfur. How should they know what we want them to do if we don’t tell them? But they do work for us – we voted them in, we can vote them out if they choose to ignore us.
Above all, continue to pray for God’s will to be done in Darfur, Sudan and South Sudan, that the senseless deaths of innocent people can be brought to an end, and that His comforting Spirit be with those who are suffering and struggling. Whether or not they know Him, I believe His heart is broken anytime an innocent person is suffering from evil. With prayer, who knows how many people will come to know Him through this and find true joy because of it?