The governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway have called on all warring parties in Darfur to lay down their arms and work with international peacekeepers to achieve a permanent peace.
In 2003, armed opposition in the Darfur region of western Sudan began an insurrection against the government in Khartoum, in protest against government policies that they claimed discriminated against non-Arabic populations. The government sent troops to fight the uprising, and also armed militias, the Janjaweed, to fight the rebels. But the Janjaweed were more interested in brutalizing the civilian population, resulting in a humanitarian crisis that left hundreds of thousands dead and two million people displaced.
In 2007, a combined African Union-United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur, or UNAMID, was deployed in Darfur to stabilize the region. Several cease-fire agreements were signed, as well as two peace agreements in 2006 and 2011; however two of the major opposition groups, Justice and Equality Movement/Gibril Ibrahim and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid, or SLA-AW, refused to sign the agreement. SLA-AW has consistently rejected participation in any peace agreement, refused to declare any unilateral cessation of hostilities and is engaged in confrontations with government forces.
Hostilities began anew in March and the government increased its troops and intensified the fighting. Finally, in mid-June, Sudanese government forces and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdel Wahid clashed in Central Darfur State, again forcing thousands of civilians to flee their villages.
On June 19th, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway issued a written statement condemning the fighting, as well as inter-tribal violence in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur.“The civilian population continues to bear the brunt of this unnecessary violence, which has led to the burning down of villages, causing high numbers of civilian injury and death, and the displacement of nearly 9,000 people,” said the statement.
“There can be no military solution to the conflict in Darfur and the international community should consider imposing sanctions against those who continue to act as spoilers.
“The [three governments] call on all parties to the conflict to immediately cease all military engagement and hostilities, allow unfettered humanitarian access, and to meaningfully engage with the African Union High Level Implementation Panel-led peace process in order to reach a permanent ceasefire.”
The Unites States continues to engage all parties to the conflict to exercise restraint, engage in dialogue for a negotiated solution.