Two million people fleeing their homes and 180,000 deaths later, a new round of peace talks between the Sudanese government officials and rebels are currently underway in the Darfur region, as African Union mediators are calling for an end to killing civilians.
Although negotiations have been in progress for more than a year, the government and rebel groups have continued fighting in Sudan’s western Darfur region.
“The continued senseless killings of innocent civilians … the attacks on humanitarian workers must stop,” AU chief mediator Salim Ahmed Salim said in opening the seventh round of talks.
According to CNN.com, “the talks will attempt to forge a consensus on how to run Darfur over the long-term, focusing on power- and wealth-sharing between Darfur’s inhabitants and the federal government in Khartoum,” AU mediator Sam Ibok said. Ibok said there would also be discussions about thorny issues such as the disarmament of rebels and militia groups.
According to CNN.com, the violence in Darfur is blamed on a divide in the Sudanese Liberation Movement, the larger rebel group. After decades of tribes battling over land and water in Darfur, rebels declared a large-scale conflict in early 2003, accusing the central government of neglect. In turn, the central government is accused of unleashing Arab tribal militias, known as Janjaweed, to murder and rape civilians and destroy villages.
In the past, President George W. Bush has also spoken out against the violence in Darfur.
“The world cannot ignore the suffering of more than one million people,” Bush said in a statement on violence in Dafur in Sept. 2004. “The U.S. will continue to help relieve suffering, as we demand that the- Janjaweed, and Darfur rebels end the violence.”