Darfur Humanitarian Essay

Background Information  « top »

  • Alvarez, Alex, Herb Hirsch, Eric Markusen, and Samuel Totten, editors. “Special Issue on Darfur.” (external link) Special issue, Genocide Studies and Prevention 1, no. 1 (2006). (HV 6322.7 .G465 v.1) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Contains articles covering rape and other crimes committed against girls and women, the case for genocide under international law, a critique of the U.S. State Department’s Atrocities Documentation Project, a comparative study of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the genocide in Darfur, and implications for Darfur based on the international community’s failure to stop the Rwandan genocide.

  • Apsel, Joyce, editor. Darfur: Genocide Before Our Eyes. New York: Institute for the Study of Genocide, 2005. (DT 159.6 .D27 D37 2005) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Compilation of essays providing background and analysis of the crisis in Darfur. Provides suggestions for teaching about the topic, comparative genocide, and human rights. Contains references, maps, a glossary, list of Web resources, and the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

  • Burr, J. Millard, and Robert O. Collins. Darfur: The Long Road to Disaster. Princeton, NJ: Marcus Wiener, 2006. (DT 546.48 .B87 2006) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Traces the political turmoil in Darfur back to 1963 and the beginning of a thirty-year struggle for control of Chad. Provides in-depth analysis of Chad, Sudan, and Libya, the three principal states involved, in a history of armed conflict in the region. Several chapters originally appeared in the authors’ Africa’s Thirty Years War (1999). The last two chapters discuss the genocide in Darfur itself. Includes a bibliography and an index.

  • Cheadle, Don, and John Prendergast. Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond. New York: Hyperion, 2007. (DT 159.6 .D27 C54 2007) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Provides an overview of the crisis in Darfur based on the authors’ 2005 visit to the region. Includes maps, photographs, and an appendix detailing actions one can take to help end the genocide.

  • Daly, M. W. Darfur’s Sorrow: A History of Destruction and Genocide. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. (DT 159.6 .D27 D35 2007) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Discusses the history of Darfur as a neglected and underdeveloped region of various empires as documents the precursors to the conditions for genocide in the region. Contains a chronology, glossary, endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.

  • De Waal, Alex. Famine That Kills: Darfur, Sudan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. (HC 835 .Z9 F335 2005) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Examines the effects of disease, starvation, survival strategies, and international humanitarian efforts in Darfur. Presents a case-study of the Mawashei camp and considers famine, land disputes, poverty, and social history as roots of the genocide. Contains statistics, abbreviations, a bibliography, and an index.

  • De Waal, Alex, editor. War in Darfur and the Search for Peace. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2007. (DT 159.6 .D27 W37 2007) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Combines fifteen essays on various topics related to the situation in Darfur, including peace negotiations and the emergence of American movements to stop the violence. Includes endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.

  • Feinstein, Lee. “Darfur and Beyond: What Is Needed to Prevent Mass Atrocities.” (external link) Council Special Reports (CSR), no. 22. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 2007. (Subject Files) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Provides an overview on the crisis in Darfur. Discusses state sovereignty, atrocities, and the responsibility to protect individuals and human rights. Discusses the roles of the United Nations, United States, and regional organizations and their response to the crisis, and presents conclusions.

  • Flint, Julie, and Alex de Waal. Darfur: A Short History of a Long War. London: Zed Books, 2005. (DT 157.673 .F58 2005) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Relates the history and ethnic identity of Darfur and the rise of the Sudanese government and its relations with the Janjaweed militia and other rebel groups. Highlights responses of the international community and roles of the United Nations and African Union. Includes photographs, maps, endnotes, a chronology, glossary, bibliography, and an index.

  • Holt, P. M., and M. W. Daly. A History of the Sudan: From the Coming of Islam to the Present Day. New York: Longman, 2000. (DT 156.4 .H64 2000) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Provides a general history of Sudan from the Middles Ages to the present. Includes footnotes, maps, a bibliography and an index.

  • Iyob, Ruth, and Gilbert M. Khadiagala. Sudan: The Elusive Quest for Peace. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 2006. (DT 157.672 .I94 2006) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Considers Sudan’s complex geo-politics and other roadblocks to peace in the region. Discusses the history of the Afro-Arab Islamic Sultanate, tribal and ethnic identities, exclusionary politics, relations with the central government, key parties in the conflict, conflict resolution and the Abuja peace agreement.

  • Kahn, Leora, editor. Darfur: Twenty Years of War and Genocide in Sudan. Brooklyn, NY: PowerHouse Books, 2007. (DT 159.6 .D27 D38 2007) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Thematically arranged collection of photographs taken before and after the genocide began. Includes several short essays by prominent figures and journalists.

  • Lefkow, Leslie. Darfur in Flames: Atrocities in Western Sudan. (external link) New York: Human Rights Watch, 2004. (JC 599 .S73 L44 2004) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Provides a historical background to the situation in Darfur. Discusses the Sudanese government’s policy of forced displacement, abuses by government-allied militias and rebels, the cross-border conflict in Chad, and humanitarian implications. Provides recommendations to Sudan, Chad, rebel groups, the United Nations, the World Food Programme, and others.

  • Mahmoud, Mahgoub El-Tigani. “Inside Darfur: Ethnic Genocide by a Governance Crisis.” (external link) Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 24, no. 2 (2004): 3-17. (Subject File) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Argues that ethnic identity, biased policies, and government abuses towards non-Arab Darfurians are causes of the genocide in Darfur. Draws on the work of Sudanese writers and scholars in order to better understand the situation and to offer solutions to the crisis. Contains endnotes.

  • Physicians for Human Rights. Darfur. Cambridge, MA: Physicians for Human Rights, 2005. (DT 157.673 .D37 2005) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Presents photographs of Darfuri refugees living in Chad with brief accounts from survivors of the Furawiya, Terbeba, and Bendisi villages.

  • Prunier, Gérard. Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005. (DT 159.6 .D27 P78 2005) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    A comprehensive analysis of the conflict in Darfur. Discusses the origins of the crisis, tribes and ethnic identity, religion, local and regional politics, and relations between Darfur and the Khartoum government.

  • Reeves, Eric. A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide. Toronto: The Key Publishing House, Inc., 2007 (DT 159.6 .D27 R448 2007) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Compendium of more than one hundred written analyses documenting the Darfur crisis since 2003. Includes maps, photographs, appendices, a bibliography, and an index.

  • Rodman, Kenneth Aaron. "Darfur and the Limits of Legal Deterrence." (external link) Human Rights Quarterly 30, no. 3 (2008): 529-560.  (JC 571 .U64 v. 30) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Argues that the legal deterrence will not achieve peace in Darfur and post-atrocity justice will depend largely on methods used to end the mass atrocities.  Includes footnotes.

  • Udombana, Nsongurua J. “When Neutrality is a Sin: The Darfur Crisis and the Crisis of Humanitarian Intervention in Sudan.” (external link) Human Rights Quarterly 27, no. 4 (2005): 1149-1199. (JC 571 .U64 v.27) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Argues that failed diplomatic efforts to end Sudanese government human rights violations justifies international military intervention. Denounces the international community’s neutral response toward atrocities in the area. Discusses security challenges facing Africa and offers suggestions. Contains footnotes.

  • Van Ardenne-van der Hoeven, Agnes, Mohamed Salih, Nick Grono, and Juan Méndez. Explaining Darfur: Four Lectures on the Ongoing Genocide. Amsterdam: Vossiuspers UvA, 2006. (DT 159.6 .D27 E97 2006) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Introduces the conflict in Darfur and discusses aspects of governance, policy, conflict resolution, genocide prevention, and provides a critique of the international community’s response. Contains photographs.

  • West, Deborah L. The Sudan: Saving Lives, Sustaining Peace. (external link) Cambridge, MA: Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2006. (DT 159.6 .D27 W47 2006) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Summary of the discussions that took place at a conference held in March 2006. Contains a map, list of conference participants, and list of publications by the Program on Intrastate Conflict.

  • Xavier, John. Darfur: African Genocide. New York: Rosen, 2008. (DT 159.6 .D27 X38 2008) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    General history of the region that focuses on geographical and historical factors in the genocide. Includes suggestions for further reading, a glossary, and an index. Written for young adults.

  • Investigative Reports  « top »

  • Herlinger, Chris, and Paul Jeffrey. Where Mercy Fails: Darfur's Struggle to Survive. New York: Seabury Books, 2009. (HC 835.Z9 F342 2009) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Documentation from a United Methodist missionary photojournalist and a Church World Service writer highlighting the Darfur crisis through photographic documentation, personal narratives, and a bibliography.  Includes a forward by Desmond Tutu.

  • Jok, Jok Madut. Sudan: Race, Religion, and Violence. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2007. (DT 157.673 .J65 2007) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Examines the roles and relationship between race and religion in Sudan, especially as they create divisions within the country. Also examines trends of militancy in Sudan. Includes a bibliography, maps, and an index.

  • Flint, Julie. Sudan, Darfur Destroyed: Ethnic Cleansing by Government and Militia Forces in Western Sudan. (external link) New York: Human Rights Watch, 2004. (KTQ 2107 .M56 S75 2004) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Considers Sudanese government and Janjaweed militia collaboration in the ethnic cleansing of Darfur. Chronicles atrocities and critiques international response. Includes maps, photographs of atrocities, statistics, and lists victims by village.

  • Gingerich, Tara, and Jennifer Leaning. The Use of Rape as a Weapon of War in the Conflict in Darfur, Sudan. Boston: Program on Humanitarian Crises and Human Rights, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health, 2004. (DT 157.673 .G56 2004) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Utilizes the results of interviews and a literature review to assess the use of rape as a weapon in Darfur with particular consideration of the nature of the rapes, the circumstances in which they took place, their relationship to the larger issue of ethnic cleansing, the impact on the non-Arab community of Darfur, and possibilities for mitigation and support by the international community.

  • Human Rights Watch. Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2005. (KTQ 2107 .M56 .H954 2005) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Examines the responsibilities of the Sudanese government and military officials for implementing policies of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. Provides policy recommendations and calls for an end to impunity so those responsible can be prosecuted. Contains photographs, footnotes, a list of war criminals, and an index.

  • Marlowe, Jen, Aisha Bain, and Adam Shapiro. Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival. New York: Nation Books, 2006. (DT 159.6 .D27 M37 2006) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Three human rights activists visited Darfur in 2004 to document and film the ongoing genocide. Expanding on their film, the authors present stories of survivors, including internally displaced persons and refugees living in Chad.

  • Physicians for Human Rights. Darfur, Assault on Survival: A Call for Security, Justice, and Restitution. Cambridge, MA: Physicians for Human Rights, 2006. (DT 157.673 .D372 2006) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Investigative findings of atrocities in Darfur including eyewitness accounts from the villages of Furawiya, Terbeba, and Bendisi. Discusses international law, reparations, and provides recommendations for resolving the crisis. Includes maps, glossary, acronym list, statistics, and appendices.

  • Steidle, Brian, and Gretchen Steidle Wallace. The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur. New York: Public Affairs, 2007. (DT 159.6 .D27 S74 2007) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Memoir of a military observer and humanitarian documenting atrocities witnessed first-hand in Darfur along with survivors’ accounts. Contains photographs and a map.

  • Totten, Samuel, and Eric Markusen, editors. Genocide in Darfur: Investigating the Atrocities in the Sudan. New York: Routledge, 2006. (DT 159.6 .D27 G464 2006) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Presents evidence and refugee interviews collected by the Darfur Atrocities Documentation Team. The U.S. State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and others helped the U.S. government to determine, in 2004, the severity of the genocide in Darfur. Includes chronology, a map, statistical tables, a bibliography, and an index.

  • United Kingdom, House of Commons. International Development Committee. Darfur, Sudan: The Responsibility to Protect: Fifth Report of Session 2004-05. (external link) London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 2005. (Oversize DT 159.6 .D27 G73 2005) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Assesses the international community’s response to the crisis in Darfur and makes recommendations as to how the response needs to be improved. Includes oral and written evidence from twenty organizations. Contains maps, timeline, and footnotes.

  • United Kingdom. House of Commons. International Development Committee. Darfur: The Killing Continues. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 2006. (Oversize DT 159.6 .D27 G74 2006) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Assesses the crisis in Darfur and the corresponding humanitarian response. Discusses the responsibility to protect civilians, the effectiveness of peacekeepers, and the Abuja peace negotiations. Contains witness testimony and written evidence.

  • United Kingdom. Parliament. DFID Response to the Report of the International Development Committee of 30 March 2005: Darfur, Sudan: The Responsibility to Protect. Cm. 6576. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 2005. (Oversize HN 787 .Z9 S624 2005) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Draws conclusions from the British House of Commons report on the responsibility to protect individuals in Darfur and provides recommendations for peace and meeting humanitarian needs.

  • United Nations Children’s Fund. Child Alert: Darfur. (external link) New York: UNICEF, 2005. (Subject File)

    Examines forces shaping the lives of Darfur’s children displaced by the crisis in that region. Examines life in the camps, security, and the effects of violence and trauma. Draws upon eyewitness accounts, including extensive interviews with children, family members, and aid workers in the field. Contains photographs.

  • Young, Helen, Abdul Monim Osman, Yacob Aklilu, Rebecca Dale, Babiker Badri, and Abdul Jabbar Abdullah Fuddle. Darfur: Livelihoods Under Siege. Medford, MA: Feinstein International Famine Center, Tufts University, 2005. (HC 835 .Z7 D375 2005) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Studies the effects of the crisis in Darfur and effects on the livelihoods of communities in the region in order to refine the nature of humanitarian efforts. Contains statistics, more than forty tables and figures, annexes, maps, a glossary, acronym list, and footnotes.

  • Film and Video  « top »

  • Efram, Shawn, and Scott Pelley. 60 Minutes. “Searching for Jacob” (external link) [online video]. New York: CBS Broadcasting, 2006.

    Journalist Scott Pelley attempts to track down a boy whose village was destroyed by the militia in Darfur.

  • Fowler, Jerry. Staring Genocide in the Face [videorecording]. Washington: Committee on Conscience, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2004. (DVD collection) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Jerry Fowler, Director of the Committee on Conscience at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, visited with refugees from Darfur now living in Chad in May 2004, and relates their stories to raise awareness worldwide.

  • Hanson, Stephanie. Crisis Guide: Darfur (external link) [online video]. Council on Foreign Relations and MediaStorm, 2007.

    World leaders, the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement, a legal scholar, and a refugee camp trauma counselor discuss the genocide in Darfur. Interactive feature provides crisis facts and explores the roles of the African Union, United Nations, Arab League, European Union, United States, China, International Criminal Court, and other organizations. Includes photographs of the atrocities.

  • Marlowe, Jen, Aisha Bain, and Adam Shapiro. Darfur Diaries Message from Home [videorecording]. Los Angeles: Cinema Libre Studio, 2006. (DVD Collection) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    In 2004, three human rights activists visited refugee camps in Chad and villages in Darfur to document the genocide in the region. Includes interviews with students, teachers, displaced survivors, resistance fighters, and child soldiers.

  • Sawyer, John. Our Choice Too, On the Edge in Darfur (external link) [online video]. Washington: Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Azimuth Media, and World Security Institute, 2006.

    Describes Sawyer’s January 2006 trip with African Union peacekeeping troops in Darfur. Shows troops on patrol to protect citizens and the dangers both peacekeepers and ordinary citizens face when under attack by the Janjaweed. Interviews with troop leaders and internally displaced camp workers describe the situation on the ground.

  • Steidle, Brian. Darfur Eyewitness [videorecording]. Washington: Committee on Conscience, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2005. (DVD collection) [Find in a library near you (external link)]

    Former United States Marine Brian Steidle describes what he saw while in Darfur with the African Union Monitoring Force. Includes photographs documenting atrocities committed by the Janjaweed and Sudanese government.

  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Our Walls Bear Witness: Sudan at the Crossroads [online video]. Washington: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2010.

    Recorded at the November 2010 opening of a special United States Holocaust Memorial Museum project entitled “Our Walls Bear Witness: Sudan at the Crossroads.” For three days, the large-scale images of the genocide in Darfur were projected on the exterior walls of the Museum for the public to see.

  • Web Resources  « top »

  • Crisis in Darfur: Satellite Mapping Initiative

    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum partnered with Google to develop a unique online satellite mapping initiative, Crisis in Darfur that allows users to zoom-in and monitor potential and emerging genocides. Features links to statistical data, photographs, videos, and eyewitness accounts, compiled by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Users can view the status of destroyed and damaged villages, clusters of internally displaced persons, and locations of refugee camps in Chad.

  • Genocide in Darfur: Darfur Eyewitness Teacher Guide

    Lesson plan designed to teach students about the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the International Criminal Court definition of crimes against humanity. Helps students understand the situation in Darfur and describes what can be done to stop the genocide.

  • The Sudan Open Archive (external link)

    Searchable database offerings free digital access to knowledge about Sudan. The Archive is an expanding, full-text database of historical and contemporary documents, with a linked analytical guide to internet resources.

  • Additional Resources  « top »

  • Subject Files

    Ask at the reference desk to see the subject file labeled “Darfur” to find newspaper and periodical articles.

  • Subject Headings

    To search library catalogs or other electronic search tools for materials on Darfur, use the following Library of Congress subject headings to retrieve the most relevant citations:

    • Darfur (Sudan) Ethnic relations
    • Darfur (Sudan) History 20th century
    • Darfur (Sudan) Politics and government 20th century
    • Genocide Sudan Darfur
    • Sudan History Darfur Conflict, 2003-
  • Even though the Janjaweed are considered to be the main perpetrators of the humanitarian crisis, Reinhard Baumgarten in his background report identifies further factors at the heart of the conflict.

    ​​Up to 50,000 people have died and more than a million been driven from their homes since ethnic minority rebels launched an uprising early last year against the Sudanese army and its Arab militia allies, leading to brutal reprisals and ethnic cleansing.

    Despite the humanitarian drama, booming oil sales are currently enabling the rich in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to line their pockets. The money is also enabling the Arab militia and the Sudanese army to buy weapons, thereby further fuelling the conflict in Darfur.

    In Northern Darfur, three thousand, possibly even four thousand camels are on their way to fresh pastures north of the provincial centre of Kutum. The majestic animals are ridden by Arabic nomads of the Maharir tribe. They are accompanied by woman, children and old people. Their entire belongings are strapped onto the backs of the camels.

    Arab militia in Sudanese army uniforms

    Janjaweed riders – Arab militia – accompany the group. They wear uniforms of the Sudanese army and are armed with Kalaschnikows. The government in Khartoum say they need arms for their own protection. But two African farmers from Kofour tell a different story.

    "They came on camels and stole everything we possessed," one farmer says. "Our camels, our donkey, everything. From Kutum to El Lukus, all you see is violence and weapons. They have plundered everything from Maroiout to Beriga."

    "Eleven Janjaweed attacked Kufut on foot," another farmer tells us. "Another sat a small distance away and watched from a camel. They attacked us from all sides. We were surrounded."

    Slaughter under the eyes of UN observers

    It is impossible to ascertain how many camels the Janjaweed stole on this day. The rebels say more than 30 Africans were killed on the occasion. All this happened under the eyes of United Nations observers. Mr Vincent is Kenyan and special United Nations rapporteur. He says that during the event, a Russian-built Antonov of the Sudanese air force circled in the sky.

    "The Janjaweed are cooperating with the government, now more so than ever; that's because Khartoum wants to appease them. We are observing that they have stopped burning down houses, but instead they ransack arbitrarily and they intimidate people. It's not an improvement, but old wine in new bottles, if you will."

    Estimates of 50,000 people killed

    This event is typical of what has been going on during the past months. As many as 50,000 people are thought to have been killed as a direct result of the conflict in Western Sudan. For weeks, the government in Kahrtum has been promising to disarm the Janjaweed.

    Sudan's foreign minister on Monday said the 30-day deadline for action on Darfur set by the U.N. Security Council on Friday is 'illogical' and that his country will implement a 90-day program agreed to earlier with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    "My personal opinion is that the government really wants to trick the international community," according to the UN official Vincent. "The very same Janjaweed have returned, only now they're dressed in the official army uniform."

    Many of the Janjaweed have meanwhile been integrated into the Sudanese security forces. The only difference is that the villagers are now afraid to go to the police to report and events, because they do not know if they will be reporting to a Janjaweed or a policeman.

    Underdevelopment and poverty reasons for Darfur troubles

    One way or the other, the disarmament of the murderous gangs would only be a first step towards pacifying the region. Underdevelopment and poverty were the reasons for the initial uprising of the black African population against the central government in Khartoum, which in turn led to reprisals on the part of the Arab militia.

    Darfur is hopelessness underdeveloped and the poor house of the impoverished Sudan. Slightly more than six million people live in Darfur, a region approximately as big as France.

    Abdurahman Ibrahim teaches at the university of al-Fasher, the capital of the province of North Darfur. He says there are less than 200 kilometres of paved roads there.

    No infrastructure in an impoverished region

    "The infrastructure is only very weakly developed. Darfur is a remote area, and it is extremely difficult to reach and to travel. In most cases, Darfur products do not even reach the country's central markets."

    A cattle market in al-Fasher, the provincial capital of North Darfur. Sheep can be bought here, along with goats, donkey, cows and camels. Despite the crisis and despite the war there is a great deal of animals on offer.

    During the last 50 years, the number of cattle in all of Darfur has quadrupled – to the detriment of the region's extremely fragile ecosystem.

    Large parts of the region are either desert, semi-arid or savannah. The number of people in Darfur has risen dramatically. Within the space of only two generations, the population from slightly more than one million has risen to over six million.

    More than 60 percent of the population of Darfur depend natural resources to survive. They need fire wood, charcoal and grass for the cattle. But the resources are dwindling.

    Dwindling natural resources

    Despite the fact that the rainy season has already started in Darfur – making it difficult for humanitarian organisations to provide relief aid – bursts of torrential rainfall are getting rarer from year to year.

    The amount of rain has dropped during the last four decades from on average 400 millimetres to only 200 to 250 millimetres – a decrease of around 50 percent. Mohammed Sidiq is environmental expert in al-Fasher:

    "One of the reasons for the war in Darfur is the exhaustion of the natural resources; the conflict among the tribes, among cattle farmers and ordinary farmers."

    During the last 30 years, there have been ten droughts in Darfur. It's a vicious cycle: Less rain means less vegetation, less cattle feed, less crops. The longer the dry spells get, the less chance the vegetation gets to recover.

    And less vegetation means less rain. The fact that tens of thousands of people are now squashed together in refugee camps further compounds the problem:

    65,000 refugees in and around al-Fasher

    "All trees in the al-Fasher region have been felled and been used as fire wood; or the soldiers have sold it. The people in the camps need wood in order to prepare their meals. And there are currently more than 65,000 refugees in and around a-Fasher."

    65,000 refugees – that means around 13 thousand households. Every household consumes roughly a tree a month as firewood. The alternative would be gas, but that is not available and the refugees would not be able to afford it anyway.

    Every year, the desert in Darfur shifts 5 to 8 kilometres towards the south. Should it not quickly be afforested, then the town of al-Fasher will be surrounded by desert within the next 10 or 15 years.

    Those factors need to be taken into consideration in dealing with the current crisis. They run deeper than might appear at first sight.

    Reinhard Baumgarten

    DEUTSCHE WELLE/DW-WORLD.DE © 2004

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