darfur: success?

the world's worst humanitarian crisis has shed some light. well, it's a dim light, but at least there's a bit of hope for the resolution to all the violence and bloodshed.

the government of sudan and the main rebel force reached a peace agreement aimed at ending a three year civil war that has killed more than 180,000, and displaced millions. this conflict started in 2003 when rebels took up arms over what they saw as neglect by the arab-dominated central government. khartoum then used militias, drawn from arab tribes, to crush the rebellion. the result was a humanitarian catastrophe in darfur, where killing, looting, and rape were an every day occurance.

as part of the deal, khartoum has agreed to disarm the janjaweed arab militia, which has been accused of some of the worst crimes against humanity. we're not talking about the systematic rape campaigns launched against ethnic albanians during the kosovo war, but we are talking about rape being used as a weapon, to instil fear into the hearts of women. there is no other psychological weapon more powerful when it comes to rooting a population out of a territory. women, no matter what culture, are the heart of any community, because they represent the future. in the most basic terms, they can have babies. when the women leave, when communities start to move out, you start to loose your hold on the land, on your posessions, on any sort of hope of returning.

two of the three rebel groups rejected the deal, objecting to large portions of it, but the largest of the three is on side, and that's a good sign. sure, making deals is great and all, and it looks great on diplomatic paper, but the real test will come when the policies are put to the people. we'll see if the government disarms, we'll see if the rebels stop their attacks. we'll also see if the khartoum government finally follows through with acceptance of united nations troops into the region. in the past, they have said they'd only accept a u.n. presence if a peace deal was reached. well, one was reached, so it remains to be seen if the 7,000 strong african union force is replaced by a proper u.n. force with the appropriate mandate to not only monitor the application of the peace plan, but also stop any additional violence that may crop up.

the following is an old video i've posted before, but it sums up the darfur situation quite nicely.