History of the conflict with recent updates and developments
The conflict in the Darfur Region of Sudan began in February of 2003. At least 400,000 people have been killed; more than 2.5 million civilians are displaced. They now live in displaced-persons camps in Sudan or in refugee camps in neighboring Chad; and more than 3.5 million men, women, and children are completely reliant on international aid for survival, some of which isn't able to reach areas in Darfur. Women are raped and tortured and innocent civillians lack the most basic protection.
The Sudanese armed forces and Sudanese government-backed militia known as “Janjaweed” have been fighting two rebel groups in Darfur, the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The stated political aim of the rebels has been to compel the government of Sudan to address underdevelopment and the political marginalization of the region. In response, the Sudanese government's regular armed forces and the Janjaweed – largely composed of fighters of Arab nomadic background – have targeted civilian populations and ethnic group from which the rebels primarily draw their support – the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.
The United States government, as well as other international entities, has recognized these atrocities – carried out against civilians primarily by the government of Sudan and its allied Janjaweed militias – as genocide.
In May of 2006 the Darfur Peace Agreement was brokered between the government of Sudan and one faction of Darfur rebels. The peace agreement has been largly ignored and inneffective and since then the violence has escalated. In August 2006, the UN's top humanitarian official Jan Egeland stated that the situation in Darfur is "going from real bad to catastrophic."
The African Union force of 7,000 is working to protect Darfurians in an area the size of Texas and its mandate has been extended until December. It needs more funding, more troops, and more support in order to be effective.
The UN Security Council authorized a strong UN peacekeeping force for Darfur by passing resolution 1706 (August 31, 2006) But the Sudanese government is staunchly opposed to the UN peacekeeping force. The Janjaweed are still active, there have also been new bombings on villages in Darfur.