A splinter group of Darfur’s rebel Justice and Equality Movement announced this week that it would implement a cease-fire and enter into talks with the Sudanese government, scheduled to be held in Doha. In an email interview, Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College and the author of “Compromising with Evil: An Archival History of Greater Sudan, 2007-2012,” reviewed the current state of violence and humanitarian efforts in Darfur.
WPR: What is the current state of hostilities -- what groups are engaged, and how extensive is the current level of violence?
Eric Reeves: Violence is pervasive in Darfur, although it varies in degree and character from region to region. The heaviest fighting between rebel groups and Khartoum's regular and militia forces is in eastern Darfur and the eastern part of the Jebel Marra massif in the very middle of the region. More widely, an epidemic of sexual assaults against women and girls continues, though the United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force does not report it. Militia assaults on camps for displaced persons (still overwhelmingly non-Arab) have become routine, as have brutal extortion schemes and ruthless land seizures by Arab groups. Recently there has been extremely destructive and widespread violence in North Darfur in the Kutum area. Khartoum prevents U.N./AU forces from investigating such violence, despite their nominal freedom of movement guaranteed by a 2008 agreement. Because of the total impunity enjoyed by Khartoum's regular and militia forces, violence seems likely to continue to increase.