This paper aims to identify the nature of the conflict in Darfur as well as the participation of the United States of America in the said dispute. In doing so, this paper will discuss the origin of the conflict, the effects of the conflict, and its current situation. In relation to this, the involvement of the United States will also be given due attention. The current efforts of the U.S. to aid in the conflict and the other means by which they could enhance their participation will also be tackled in this paper.
Origin of the Conflict
The conflict in Darfur started in February 2003. This dispute involves the Sudanese government as well as the militia that it has created, which is referred to as the “Janjaweed” and the rebel groups of the country, specifically the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). In the aforementioned year, the well-armed SLA/SLM and the JEM attacked the government’s military bases during the time wherein the al-Bashir regime is undergoing political dilemmas.
This attack was later followed by a series of rebel insurgencies that continued throughout the first half of the same year. Due to this, the Janjaweed militia fighters conducted raids on suspected communities that support or sympathize with the rebels. The operations of the Janjaweeds involved ethnic cleansing and mass killings. These kinds of attacks have a strong impact in the humanitarian aspect of the country becomes the main cause of the crisis in Darfur at the present (Human Rights Watch, 2008).
Furthermore, another important issue about this crisis is the decisions and actions made by its government. The government of Sudan is the one responsible in funding the Janjaweed militia, which is the main actor of the humanitarian attacks that is happening in the country. As such, this has greatly aggravated the conflict that is happening in Darfur (Human Rights Watch, 2008).
Effects of the Conflict
The conflict in Darfur is regarded as the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world today” (Youngs, 2004). It has been characterized by violent and even inhumane activities like massacres, rape, looting of livestock as well as the destruction of property, which includes even the contamination of water resources. Due to this conflict, there has been numerous casualties, although it is difficult to obtain reliable figures as to the exact people who died, there is an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 people who died because of the armed combat in Darfur.
Moreover, the number of internally displaced people within Sudan amounted to 1.3 million and about 150,000 people have fled the country and crossed over to Chad, which is the border country of Sudan. Being the case, humanitarian agencies have warned that if the conflict continues severe famine is likely to occur in the country. This kind of situation threatens and affects the very survival, security and dignity of those individuals who are still in Darfur (Youngs, 2004).
Current Situation of the Conflict
In the past years, the conflict in Darfur has changed radically not for the better but rather for the worst. This is due to the fact that the conflicting parties have splintered and the violent confrontations have multiplied. In relation to these, humanitarian problems have also worsened, access to humanitarian agencies became more difficult, international peacekeeping has not taken effect and political agreement is not likely to happen (International Crisis Group, 2008).
Involvement of the United States of America
The efforts of the United States to work towards the achievement of peace in Darfur operate in three primary goals. First, to give humanitarian assistance to those people who have been affected by the violence. Second, to deploy UN-AU hybrid, which is an international peacekeeping force that would be responsible in protecting civilians from the threat poses by the conflict. Third, to promote political settlement in order to end the conflict in the country (US Department of State, 2007).
The U.S. government has contributed an estimated of $4 billion for the reconstruction of Sudan and eastern Chad. This sum of money is also for humanitarian, development, and peacekeeping purposes of Darfur. Economic sanctions have also been imposed by the U.S. on several individuals and more than 100 companies that are affiliated with the Sudanese government. This economic sanction would impose pressure upon the government of Sudan to end the conflict. Moreover, the U.S. officials work together with the AU, UN, civil society and NGOs, humanitarian community, as well as with the local officials of Sudan and even the rebel factions in order to immediately end the conflict in Darfur (U.S. Department of State, 2007).
However, the efforts and contributions of the United States have failed to substantial change or improved the situation in Darfur. This is due to the fact that the U.S. government could still do a lot more in order to address this humanitarian crisis that is considered, by far, as the worst infringement of humanitarian rights in the world today. The United States is considered as the one of the world superpowers not only in terms of its military and economic status but also with regards to its role and influence in the international community. Being the case, it could encourage various countries give aid in terms of financial as well as peacekeeping operations so that the problem in Darfur could be address properly.
The resources of the United States would be more beneficial if it is used in solving the crisis in Darfur. The U.S. government gave $4 billion for the reconstruction of Darfur but the country spends about $5 billion per month for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (Moniz, 2003). The annual expenditure of $60 billion for these wars could tremendously help those victims of conflict in Darfur. Being the case, the United States should re-assess their judgment when it comes to international crisis situations. The country should not waste its capability to inflict change in the course of events of most of the world’s problems.
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