Darfur Ethnic Clashes Could Awaken Sudan’s Old Conflict


On January 16, an explosion of violence occurred in Darfur between non-Arab tribes and Arabs. Many in Sudan feared that the violence would lead to a reignition of a  vicious war previously in Darfur. Back in the 2000s, Sudan witnessed a very violent conflict between the Arabs and non-Arabs. But the fighting ended when a peace deal between the two groups concluded.

Fighting resumes in Darfur

With the recent fighting, numerous citizens in the region have raised questions about the government’s efforts to protect them. Additionally, many residents wish the government would work fast to implement a peace deal between the two parties before the situation worsens.

Since the conflict began last month, over 470 people have lost their lives all across Darfur. Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, have been said to be at the forefront of the violence. The Janjaweed became known all across Sudan back in 2003 and 2004 for their killings, terror campaigns, and raping of civilians. Since then, the Khartoum government unleashed the Arab militia group to deal with Darfur’s non-Arab residents. The government expected the Janjaweed would put down the non-Arabs who planned an insurgency. During that period, some 300,000 people lost their lives, and 2.7 million people got displaced. But the violence gradually declined after almost two years of fighting.

Joint U.N.-African Union Peacekeeping Force Ends its Mandate

Currently, Sudan stands on a fragile path to democracy after an uprising led to President Omar al-Bashir’s ousting. After his ousting, Sudan’s military took over with a transitional military-civilian government. The new governments stated their main goal would be to try and end decades-long rebellions in Various parts of the country. But many remain shocked after the transition government asked the joint U.N.-Africa Union peacekeeping forces to leave Sudan when they aimed to end rebellions in the country. The new government has since replaced the joint force with a much smaller political mission.

Just two weeks after the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force ended its mandate in Darfur, the violence began in the region. John Prendergast, a co-founder of The Sentry organization, which tracks corruption and human rights violations in Africa, said anyone could have predicted the violence would return as soon as the U.N. troops left.

The widespread violence began when two people started fighting due to a minor crime—the two men engaged in a fistfight in a camp for displaced people in Genena. Later on, the Arab man was stabbed to death in the camp located in West Darfur province’s capital. Authorities arrested the killer, a member of the African Massalit tribe, but the dead man’s family took to attacking people in the camp. Their actions caused a renewed conflict in South Darfur between the Arabs and the non-Arabs.

Since the fighting has become worse, the transitional government has deployed more troops to West Darfur and South Darfur. But the forces have not managed to contain the fighting since it began.



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