The Darfur Genocide in Sudan - History, Facts & Causes

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  • 0:04 Overview of Dafur
  • 1:18 Conflict in Darfur
  • 2:21 International Involvement
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

Darfur is the conflict-torn region located in Sudan. This area has been plagued by war, genocide and violence responsible for displacing countless individuals. In this lesson, you will learn about the background and effects of the Darfur genocide.

Overview of Darfur

Genocide and human rights violations are sometimes an unfortunate part of the history of many countries. Learning what we can from these unfortunate situations may help us to understand how to address the issues and prevent atrocities from happening in the future.

Darfur is a large region located in the African country of Sudan. The major religion in Darfur is Islam, but there are two distinct groups of people that practice that faith: African farmers that live permanently in one area and nomadic Arab tribes that move from one place to another. The roughly 6 million people living in Darfur belong to nearly 100 different tribes. There has always been some tension in the region among these different groups of people, but Darfur became a hotbed of conflict late 1980s and death and displacement continues, as of 2015.

In 1989, a man named General Omar al-Bashir staged a coup d'etat; he used the military to take over the Sudanese government and made himself the leader of Sudan. The National Islamic Front became the new government and Bashir and his new regime bore much of the responsibility for the problems that grew in Darfur.

Conflict in Darfur

After Bashir took power, farmers in Darfur claimed that the National Islamic Front no longer protected their interests against the nomadic tribes that moved in and out of the region. These nomads committed crimes, violated property rights, and even hurt the people living there. Bashir's government turned a blind eye, so the people of Darfur formed two different rebel groups that decided to fight back against their do-nothing government: the Sudan Liberation Army(SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement(JEM).

In 2003, Bashir responded to the SLA and the JEM in two ways. First, he ordered the military to fight the two rebel groups. Second, he sent a number of Arab militias to terrorize the people living in Darfur. Referred to as the Janjaweed, or 'devils on horseback', the militias rode into villages on horses or camels and terrorized the people living there. They murdered, raped, and pillaged, leaving over 400 villages in complete ruin and countless people without homes.

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