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Since 2003, the Sudanese region of Darfur has been ravaged by a war fought behind closed doors. Ethnic massacres and bombings have left more than 300,000 people dead and millions of others displaced. Our reporters obtained extremely rare access to the region, where violence continues despite the fall of longtime president Omar al-Bashir. This is their exclusive report.
“War crimes”, “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” – these are the accusations of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Omar al-Bashir, the former Sudanese president who was overthrown by a popular uprising in April 2019 after a 29-year rule. The ousted dictator had waged a merciless war against the people of Darfur since 2003.
The conflict began when rebel groups took up weapons in Darfur, accusing the Arab-dominated Bashir government of marginalising the western region and oppressing its people. They wanted to see change for Darfur’s black African tribes.
The crackdown was deadly. The army fought back, joined by the infamous Janjaweed militia, often accused of riding into villages, killing the men and raping the women. Whole villages were destroyed in the bombings. Hundreds of thousands of people were exterminated. Torture, rape and kidnapping became frequent, forcing at least two million people to leave their homes for the region’s big cities or to flee abroad. Tens of thousands of Darfuris attempted to cross the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Europe.
Massacres continue today
Throughout the war and until the fall of Bashir, access to Darfur was tightly controlled. It was almost impossible for journalists to work there freely. For four years, our correspondents in the region tried to obtain authorisation to go there. They finally did so in January and were able to travel through Darfur for several days. During this report, they came to a terrifying conclusion: despite the dictator’s fall, the violence has not stopped and the massacres continue.
Source: France 24