Sudan has been in and out of the news for a few reasons. Its former leader was the first sitting president to be charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Also, civilian protests against the military rule were happening earlier this year, which eventually led to an agreement to allow joint rule between civilians and the military. The military still has a lot of power within this agreement, but there is hope that the government will be fully civilian-led in three years (when elections can be held).
While there have been political developments in Sudan on a national level, the region of Darfur remains unstable and if anything, has been getting worse. Increased reports of criminal activity have been occurring, and these seem to be happening mostly in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). IDPs are people who were forced to leave their homes but remain within their home countries’ borders. There has also been an increase in the destruction of farms and military-occupied homes.
History of the Darfur Conflict
There are also continued armed clashes between rebel forces and government troops. This conflict started in 2003. It is estimated that 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million citizens forced from their homes. The former president of Sudan was indicted for war crimes and genocide in 2009 for his actions in Darfur. As mentioned above, he was the first sitting president to ever be indicted for war crimes by the ICC.
The Key to Peace
A joint task force between the United Nations (UN) and the Sudanese government has been established in hopes of having a new peacekeeping option. UN Peace Chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix brought up in a briefing that economic stability in Darfur is key for peace. Without economic stability, any positive gains that have been made could be rendered pointless. We imagine that the joint task force will also examine the psychology of these continuous intergroup conflicts in Darfur to further determine how to build peace in the region.
A Possible Exit Plan
Even though things seem to be deteriorating in Darfur, UNAMID (the UN-African Union Mission) is working out how to accomplish a successful exit strategy from Sudan. A tentative plan for withdrawing UNAMID involves consolidating the current 13 ground locations into 5 (mainly located where there is continuous armed conflict). Eventually, all units could be withdrawn by the end of June 2020, although Mr. Lacroix cautioned that this second phase would be dependent on the rate of successful peace negotiations.