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Employment of a livelihoods analysis to define genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan

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Abstract:

In Darfur, Sudan, since March 2003, between 170,000 and 255,000 non-Arab Darfurians have been killed in a genocidal campaign waged by the Government of Sudan. Diplomats, humanitarian aid workers, medical professionals, academics, human rights activists, journalists and legal scholars have engaged in vigorous and significant debate about whether these killings and related assaults constitute the crime of genocide, as defined in the UN Genocide Convention. This study focuses on the ways in which this conflict has caused sweeping destruction of livelihoods in Darfur, the pervasive effects of this destruction on the possibilities for long-term social survival, and the relevance of a livelihoods analysis to a key clause in the Genocide Convention. Physicians for Human Rights deployed three successive field investigations to Darfur and refugee camps in Chad order to study the destruction of lives and livelihoods and the means of survival. Survey teams selected a random sample of refugees from three pre-identified villages in Darfur, each representing one of the three major non-Arab Darfurian ethnic groups in the region. Survey teams employed structured key informant interviews and focus groups to collect both quantitative and qualitative data to explore the loss of livelihoods and lives to establish patterns of attack. From interviews with 46 respondents and six focus groups, investigators described the systematic nature of the violent attacks on villages, the close coordination of government military forces with the Janjaweed militia, and the patterns of destruction of livelihoods. The government of Sudan and its proxy militia, the Janjaweed, have created conditions of life for many thousands of non-Arab Darfurians that guarantee the destruction of their livelihoods, lives and communities. They have deliberately inflicted on the non-Arabs of Darfur conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in whole or in part. These actions constitute genocide as such under the UN Genocide Convention, which obliges nations to both prevent and punish the crime.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14623520802305727

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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