A new report from the Satellite Sentinel Project and the Enough Project reveals that civilians in South Kordofan, Sudan continue to bear the brunt of the recent escalation in hostilities between the rebel Sudan Revolutionary Front, or SRF, in this case comprised of forces from the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N and the Darfurian Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM, and the government Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF. Read More »
Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the African Union Heads of State Summit this weekend. Kerry’s participation in the summit —which marks 50 years of African regional cooperation—presents an opportunity to improve leverage for substantive outcomes. In partnership with African leaders, Kerry can help ensure that this summit has an impact by pushing for credible peace processes in Africa’s two deadliest wars: Sudan and Congo. Read More »
More than 70 Heads of State will gather this week to attend the 21st Africa Union summit which coincides with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the continental institution. The summit’s theme “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance” will unfold with a call for Africans to “realize the dream of the founding fathers for a peaceful, prosperous, and united Africa”. Read More »
Right now, in 2013, it has been ten years since the tragedy occurring in Darfur started. In 2003, the Sudanese government began supporting militia groups called the Janjaweed (“Devil on Horseback” in Arabic) to terrorize villages in Darfur because of their ethnicity and with goals of acquiring land and resources. These actions have been widely recognized as genocide. Read More »
On Monday morning, the M23 rebel group and the Congolese army, or FARDC, clashed in the village of Mutaho, approximately six miles northwest of the provincial capital of Goma. The fighting comes after six months of relative calm between the warring parties following the 12-day occupation of Goma by M23 in November 2012. Read More »
Contact: Jonathan Hutson, email@example.com
Darfur's Gold Rush Spurs Violence, Instability, and Humanitarian Crisis
WASHINGTON – The Sudanese government's interest the unprecedented level of gold production from the Jebel 'Amer area of North Darfur – where workers and rescuers recently died in multiple mine collapses – has spurred state-sponsored violence and displacement, argues a new report by the Enough Project and the Satellite Sentinel Project.
The report, which draws on extensive interviews and DigitalGlobe satellite imagery, challenges Khartoum's characterization of violence in the region as "inter-tribal" battles.
Report co-author Omer Ismail, a Sudanese activist on Darfur and a senior adviser to the Enough Project, stated:
"The Sudanese government asserts that Darfur is beset by 'inter-tribal' tensions that inevitably result in violence. However, the evidence shows that Khartoum systematically spurs these clashes by sponsoring militias and taking sides. This year alone, we've seen government forces exacerbate clashes by backing the Abbala versus the Beni Hussein; the Beni Halba versus the Gimr; and the Taaysha versus the Salamat. Government-armed Abbala militias' recent power play to control North Darfur's gold mines represents a continuation of state-sponsored atrocity and plunder."
Co-author Akshaya Kumar, an Enough Project policy analyst, stated:
"Ten years after the genocide began; state-sponsored violence has once more taken hold of the region. Cash-strapped and dollar-starved, Sudan sees gold as its new oil. The recent gold discoveries are fueling atrocities again in Darfur. More than five times as many people were displaced in the first few months of 2013 than in the entirety of 2012."
DigitalGlobe satellite imagery featured in the report illustrates the major influx of thousands of artisanal miners into Jebel 'Amer, North Darfur, between February 2012 and January 2013, as well as confirming major displacement, consistent with U.N. reports that by April 2013, more than 150,000 people have been displaced due to the recent fighting. In December 2012, Sudan's minerals ministry declared that 4,000 new gold mines, which yielded approximately $2.2 billion in 2012, are operating in the Jebel Amir area.
"Most of the gold from Darfur has been produced by unlicensed, artisanal mines, which are difficult for Khartoum to tax," explained Kumar. "This helps explain the government's drive to consolidate control over the mines."
Following the regional violence in January and February, which displaced some 150,000 miners and their families, the governor of North Darfur banned mining in the Jebel 'Amer area. However, many mines continued to operate.
On April 29, Sudanese officials – including Jebel 'Amer District Chief Haroun al-Hassan -- initially reported that at least 60 workers died there in two collapses of a gold mine shaft that descended 131 feet (40m). On May 6, Sudan's state-owned SUNA news agency sharply revised the estimated number of casualties downward to five deaths and five injuries. However, miners who had been on the scene during the disaster and failed rescue efforts reported to the Agence France-Presse wire service that more than 100 workers were trapped and killed when several mines close together collapsed, and that nine rescuers also disappeared when the ground crumbled underneath them.
Darfur is suffering its worst humanitarian crisis in years. Since the beginning of 2013, over 200,000 people have been displaced by what the government of Sudan dismisses as “inter-communal” violence. Ten years after the first reports of genocide trickled out of Darfur, an eerie echo of the past is sweeping across the region. The government of Sudan would like the world to believe that Darfur is plagued by intractable inter-tribal hatreds that inevitably lead to violent destabilizing conflict. But in a new report, “Darfur's Gold Rush: State-Sponsored Atrocities 10 Years After the Genocide,” Enough Project Senior Advisor Omer Ismail and I challenge that descriptive framework. Our research shows that government-armed Abbala militias’ recent power play to displace the Beni Hussein people and thereby gain control North Darfur’s gold mines is not the product of inter-tribal rivalries. Instead, the Abbala offensive must be understood as a continuation of Khartoum’s campaign of state-sponsored atrocity and plunder in the region. Read More »
I learned about the conflict in Congo because Javier Bardem was under the weather. Javier was supposed to join John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, at a screening of "The Greatest Silence," a film showcasing the use of rape as a weapon of war by militias in Congo, but he was too sick to attend. Read More »