Yesterday, the UN released a resolution calling for up to 19,555 UN troops to join African Union forces to form a joint force of 26,000 troops for peacekeeping in the Darfur region of Sudan, which Sudan has agreed to allow. This is a great step forward and I sincerely hope that it will help to stop the killing, raping, and destruction that is going on there now.
Darfur is the site of the most recent genocide in human history, with local arab militias called the Janjaweed which receive funding and equipment from the Sudanese government attacking villages belonging to residents of other ethnicities, killing the men and raping and marking the women. This has led to a refugee crisis with millions of refugees and hundreds of thousands dead. For a far more extensive explanation, see the Darfur conflict article on Wikipedia.
If you don’t know where Darfur is, it is a region in western Sudan (shown by the orange borders in this screenshot I made from Google Earth):
With national borders:
Speaking of Google Earth, for the past few months, it comes with the Crisis in Darfur layer activated by default, which shows the villages that have been damaged or destroyed and has some pictures and stories and links to more. To get an initial grasp of the scale of destruction, here are two more screenshots showcasing part of the Crisis in Darfur layer, the first showing most of Darfur and the second a closer view of Western Darfur:
Click on the images to access larger views.
Each of those red flame icons represenents a village that has been destroyed while they yellow and red ones represent damaged villages. I am glad that Google has provided this as it is a truly sobering reminder of humanity’s potential for brutality and it allows us to see with more detail the nature of the destruction there than we can get from the news stories that the media occasionally reports.
To Download the latest version of Google Earth, go here.
This is a serious issue and while sending this joint UN-AU force will be very helpful, it is not resolved yet and I urge people to keep paying attention to it.