Hundreds of thousands killed
In 2010, Milli Minnawi broke with the government and terminated the peace agreement from 2006. Instead, the government signed an agreement with LJM in 2011. In the same year, JEM, SLM-Nur and SLM-Minnawi merged with the SPLM-North rebel movement, a “branch” of the South Sudanese independence movement. Together they formed the revolutionary front of Sudan.
Violence has continued in Darfur since 2012, now mostly in the form of local conflicts over arable and pasture land, water sources and minerals. The more political dimension is less and less heard about, but the conditions for the civilian population are just as difficult.
There are regular reports of new clashes with many dead as a result. People continue to be driven away from their homes. How many have been affected by the conflict is difficult to assess. The violence claimed the most deaths in the first years. The total number of dead is estimated at at least 300,000, of which 80 percent are believed to have succumbed to diseases in the wake of the war.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that about 2.5 million Darfurians are homeless in the country and that hundreds of thousands more are living in refugee camps in Chad.
In early 2017, the US government lifted some of the economic sanctions imposed by Washington on Sudan in 1997. This was after Khartoum promised to end all bombings in Darfur. In the middle of the year, Washington considered lifting the sanctions altogether, provided that security is ensured and aid work in Darfur can continue.
In 2017, the US government lifted most of the economic sanctions imposed by Washington on Sudan in 1997. This was after Khartoum promised to end all bombings in Darfur. The United States also considered that Sudan had made progress in the fight against terrorism and that respect for human rights had been strengthened in the country. However, Sudan remains on the US list of countries in the world that sponsor terrorism.
Conflicts in the east
On the other side of Sudan, among the mountains to the east along the Red Sea coast and the border with Eritrea, lies an area that is at least as neglected as Darfur but with a slightly less complicated history. The three states of the Red Sea, Kassala and Gedarif are dominated by the African ethnic group Beja and Arab Rashaida.
In 1957, the Beja Congress (BC) was formed to work with peaceful, political means to promote the development of the region. The Red Sea region had the lowest level of education and the worst access to health care in Sudan, as well as fewer representatives in the country’s governing bodies and in the military leadership.
Periodically, BC was banned and in 1993 the party joined the broad opposition movement National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which was formed in Eritrea. BC now turned to armed resistance against the Islamist-backed Sudanese military regime and focused on sabotaging roads and oil pipelines.
BC was supported by the Eritrean government and the South Sudanese SPLA. The Eritrean government supported the Sudanese opposition in response to Sudan’s suspicion of supporting Islamists in Eritrea.
In the early 2000’s, BC managed to take control of a number of cities and smaller areas and quite successfully recruited followers among students and other young people. However, BC considered itself violated within the NDA and refused to participate in peace negotiations with the regime.
When the SPLA left the NDA after concluding a peace with the Sudanese government, BC in 2005 merged with the Rashaida Free Lions, an armed group formed in the Red Sea region in 1999, to form The Eastern Front. The rebel movement JEM from Darfur also joined in to create a position as a national resistance movement and increase pressure on the regime.
From being at a low level for several years, the conflict in the area flared up in 2005, when 17 protesters were killed by police in the port city of Port Sudan. The influx of volunteers to the guerrillas increased rapidly and the fighting escalated.
The Khartoum government also reacted quickly with offers of peace talks. Contacts were facilitated by Eritrea changing sides, presumably to increase its military readiness at the border with Ethiopia, and stepped in as a mediator.
A peace agreement was concluded in 2006 following roughly the same model as the agreement that ended the war between northern and southern Sudan. The Red Sea area was promised a fair share of state revenue from the region and a larger share of political power at the state and local levels.
The promised improvements have not met the expectations of the population and dissatisfaction has continued to burn. The peace agreement expired in 2011 and nothing new has been entered into.
In June 2012, the government expelled several aid organizations from the area, including Save the Children and Médecins Sans Frontières, and accused them of subversive activities. Since the guerrilla movements were only partially disarmed after the 2006 peace agreement, there are plenty of weapons in the area.