New Internationalist

Eyes wide shut

Issue 385

These drawings were collected by paediatrician Annie Sparrow and researcher Olivier Bercault for Human Rights Watch. Without instruction children in refugee camps along the Darfur/Chad border drew scenes from their own lives of the devastation in Darfur.

Abd al-Rahman, age 13
Abd al-Rahman, age 13

In 1994 the world stood by while Hutu extremists slaughtered hundreds of thousands of their Tutsi neighbours in Rwanda. The Rwandan genocide is now seen as an egregious failure of the international community.

But it is happening again in Darfur. Black Africans in this huge area of Western Sudan are being systematically slaughtered by Arab militias with the backing of the Islamist Government in Khartoum.

Magda, age 9
Magda, age 9

Janjaweed forces have been terrorizing African villages throughout Darfur for the past three years. Six million people live there – half of them Africans, the rest Arab, almost all are Muslim. Nearly two million people have been forced from their homes, as many as 400,000 people may have been killed or died of malnutrition and disease. Thousands of women have been raped. It is a clear case of ethnic cleansing – nearly all the victims are black Africans.

Salah, age 13
Salah, age 13

The UN High Commission for Human Rights says the Janjaweed have operated ‘with total impunity and in close co-ordination with the forces of the Government of Sudan.’

“We were running from the burning houses. Janjaweed and soldiers with guns and planes and bombs came, all together, quickly. They were shooting... my uncle was shot. I saw them taking women and girls away. All of us – my family – we were screaming and running from the Janjaweed to hide in the wadi [riverbed or oasis] ...holding each other by the arms to keep together. Here in camp we are safe, but my father... he was lost.”

The UN has directed the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the atrocities in Darfur, but since Sudan has not signed the Rome Treaty that established the Court it’s an empty gesture. To stop the genocide there needs to be immediate military intervention by a disciplined, multinational force of at least 20,000 troops.

Do’a, age 11
Do’a, age 11

Without this show of force, the sickening reality portrayed in the children’s drawing on these pages will continue. Another Rwanda – in slow motion.

Reprinted with permission of Human Rights Watch. Darfur Drawn is now a travelling exhibit. For the complete drawings and background on Darfur see http://www.hrw.org/photos/2005/darfur/drawings/index.htm

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