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Darfur (actually Dar Fur, from Arabic دار فور 'Land of Fur') is a region in western Sudan . Today, the name is mainly used as a summary for the area of ​​the Sudanese states Gharb Darfur (West Darfur), Shamal Darfur (North Darfur), Dschanub Darfur (South Darfur), Scharq Darfur (East Darfur) and Wasat Darfur (Central Darfur) ), but can also refer to the historical region or the mountains of the same name.

The area of ​​the five provinces borders on Libya , Chad , the Central African Republic and South Sudan . They have a total area of ​​509,075 km² (almost one and a half times the size of Germany) and a population of more than 8 million people. The region is characterized by the highlands of the same name, an arid plateau with the Marra Mountains (Jebel Marra, a mountain range of volcanic origin with mountains up to 3088 m) in the center.

The Darfur conflict has been raging in the region since 2003 , which, according to UN data, cost around 300,000 lives and displaced 2.5 million by spring 2008.

States of Sudan


Al-Fashir climate diagram

A series of volcanic mountain masses with extinct craters (Jebel Medob, up to 2000 m, Jebel Marra , up to 3000 m high, with numerous other peaks in between, Jebel Tagabo and Wanda) run through the central part of Darfur from northeast to southwest . This is where all the water flows from the mountains in the north and northeast. They unite to form the Wadi el Melk, which flows into the Nile at Debbeh . In the east, Wadi el Koh takes in all the water and is later lost in the wide plain in the south. In the west of the region, the Wadi Barreh or Turah and Wadi Azum lead into the Wadi Cadja and the Bahr el Salamat , a tributary of the Shari in the Chad basin . In the south, the Wadi Gendi drains the region and leads to the Bahr al-Arab . In the rainy season the southern part of the country forms a large lake, in the dry season the floor is torn by crevices. The eastern part (Gize) is sandy like the western part.

The north consists of dry savannah , the south is largely flooded during the rainy season. The north and south are hardly populated, the northeast is almost deserted. The climatic station al-Faschir in the middle of Darfur has high temperatures all year round of more than 20 ° C only in the months of July and August, so that only these two months are humid , while the remaining ten months are arid . The total annual precipitation is 305 mm; This means that this area of ​​Darfur is close to the agronomic risk limit. In addition, the situation is exacerbated by the great variability in precipitation, so that the risk of drought is quite high. As the cultivation limit for millet was shifted to the north in the last few decades due to the increasing population pressure and after a few years with more rain, catastrophic famines occurred in the following years of drought . As a result of the dwindling of the vegetation near the ground and the conversion to arable land, part of the fertile soil was blown away by deflation ; the result is an expansion of the desert and semi-desert areas ( desertification ).


Trucks on the way from Nyala to al-Junaina , Jebel Marra, 2019

Darfur's economy is primarily based on subsistence agriculture ( rain-fed agriculture ) with grain, fruit and tobacco growing and livestock farming in the drier north. The gum arabic tree is also planted. The resin ( gum arabic ) obtained from the bark is required as an emulsifier for the preservative coating of drugs. Sudan covers 70 to 80 percent of the world's needs. Because of the current conflict and the associated loss of production, the market price has doubled within a few years. There was an attempt to relocate the gum arabic trees to Texas, but the resin was not of the required quality.

Darfur used to be a center of the slave trade as it was a route by which African slaves were brought into the Arab world. The largest ethnic groups are the heavily Arabized Furs (after whom the region is named) and Black Africans living in the south, both ethnic African peoples. The most important cities are al-Fashir and al-Junaina .

The country seems to be rich in metals ( gold , copper , antimony , lead , iron ). Oil concessions for the southern part of the region have been awarded to the China National Petroleum Corporation .


Due to the largely oral tradition, the history of Darfur before the 19th century is very uncertain. The few existing king lists are so far unpublished.


The Daju, who are among the earliest inhabitants of Darfur, have been documented as Tajūwa by Arab geographers since the 12th century . The Daju kings residing in Dar Sila in today's Republic of Chad trace their origins back to Yemen and therefore cannot have been of local origin.


The Tunjur , who still settle in Darfur and other areas of Central Sudan, are considered to be immigrants who bring culture. According to a widespread tradition , already recorded by Gustav Nachtigal , the Tunjur come from Arabia. Popular traditions of Darfur indicate an origin from Dongola or more generally from the area of ​​the Nile Valley. The references to immigration from the Middle East are supported by the Arabic appearance of the Tunjur, even if the Arabic they generally speak today seems to have emerged from an older Semitic language. Since the legend of the fall of the Tunjur, according to a new theory, refers to the end of the Assyrian empire at the end of the 7th century BC. Refers to the Tunjur from the subsequent escape movement.


The change of power from the Tunjur to the Keira is generally explained by a legend. It is about the tough and unjust sow Dorsit, the last king of the Tunjur, who was devastated by Dali, the first king of the Keira, in a night battle. Thereupon the cruel ruler was abandoned by his followers and disappeared never to be seen again. Dali was the founder of the Keira ruling house, under which the greatest expansion of the Darfur Empire took place. After Islam had already been spread by traders from the Nile region, his successor Soliman Solon (c. 1650–1680) made Islam the state religion.

Darfur in the 19th century

Under the pretext that escaped Mamlukes found refuge in Kordofan , Muhammad Ali Pasha , Pasha of Egypt , sent his son-in-law, Mohammed Bei El Defterdar, against Darfur in 1821, who submitted to him after a murderous battle. An attempt by Mohammed Bei El Defterdar, the Abu Madian, a younger brother of the Sultan Mohammed Fahdel, who had been held by him in a kind of captivity, to the throne of Darfur by force of arms (1833) failed because of a mutiny by the Rumelian people Auxiliaries, and Darfur was strictly cordoned off from Egypt. Relations between Egypt and Darfur remained tense, and the growing power of that country, its southern expansion, was closely monitored by the sultans.

Egyptian conquest of Darfur: 1874

Relations between the neighbors had been hostile for years and turned into open enmity when Egypt, under the influence of the European powers, forbade the importation of slaves from Darfur, thereby robbing this country of one of its richest sources of income. After Sultan Brahim got into open combat with the Egyptian Bei Siber stationed in the south of Darfur in 1873, an Egyptian corps under Ismail Pasha advanced from Kordofan into Darfur, defeating Sultan Brahim, who died in battle (October 1874), and that before independent sultanate was conquered for Egypt.

In 1883 Darfur was conquered for Sudan by the army of the Sudanese Muhammad Ahmad , who had made himself Mahdi . He had previously forced the Egyptian provincial governor ( Müdür ) of Darfur, the Austrian Rudolf Slatin , to surrender .

Autonomy: 1898-1916

The sultanate became autonomous under Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1898 after the suppression of the Mahdi uprising . At that time the population was estimated to be a maximum of 1.5 million. Half of them consisted of the then predominant Fur , 500,000 Arabs, the other half of Tukruri and Fulbe .

During the First World War, the last sultan led an uprising against the British Empire. This was suppressed in May 1916 with the use of 3,000 soldiers and the Royal Air Force, the Sultan was killed and Darfur was incorporated into the British-ruled Sudan, which was in fact a British colony until 1956 .

After Sudan's independence

In the 1980s, particularly in 1984/1985, Darfur was affected by periods of drought and scarcity of land and water while its population grew at the same time, which intensified competition, contradictions and conflicts between farmers and ranchers.

In 1994 Darfur was divided into three Sudanese states: North, South and West Darfur.

Darfur crisis

Internally displaced people in North Darfur


2003 began in Darfur the revolt of two rebel groups - the Sudan Liberation Army ( Sudan Liberation Army , SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement ( Justice and Equality Movement , JEM) - which emerged from the traditional, non-Arab-origin ethnic groups in Darfur and accuse the Sudanese government of marginalizing the region and suppressing the population. The conflict has also been exacerbated by extended periods of drought and disputes over resources such as land and water. When the civil war broke out, the government began a campaign with aerial bombardments and ground attacks carried out by Arab militias , the Janjawid .

The latter are accused of serious human rights abuses against the civilian population, such as the destruction of villages, massacres, looting and rape. The Sudanese government denied complicity in the crimes of predominantly Arab militias in Darfur. Some observers classify the Janjawid crimes as " ethnic cleansing " and genocide . In 2004, the then US Secretary of State , Colin Powell , also classified the attacks as genocide. In the same year, the United Nations spoke of the "worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world" in view of the murders and displacement in Darfur.

A peace agreement was signed between the government and the rebels in April 2004, but has since been broken several times by all sides. Several other agreements have also failed to bring lasting peace. The rebels have split into various factions, not all of which recognize the peace accords and some of which have refused to participate in further negotiations.

In October 2008, the United Nations reported that in the past two months alone 40,000 people had been displaced after renewed fighting. They live in the desert and not in refugee camps and are therefore not reached by international aid. To date, an estimated 300,000 civilians have been killed in connection with the conflict. With changing intensity, it continues until the present moment.

Reactions from abroad

United Nations

The United Nations initially reacted cautiously to the crisis in Darfur and limited itself to appeals to the Sudanese government to strive for peace and facilitate access for humanitarian aid in the region. China and Russia in particular resisted tougher action in the United Nations Security Council for a long time because they maintain good economic relations with Sudan.

The UN humanitarian agencies ( UNICEF , UNHCR , World Food Program ) are active in providing humanitarian aid for Darfur and the refugees from Darfur in neighboring Chad .

In 2004 the Security Council authorized the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which, however, was unable to effectively protect the civilian population.

On March 30, 2005, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution in New York that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague should investigate war crimes in the region. It is the first time that the Council has referred a case to the ICC. The panel adopted a French draft text by eleven votes to zero, with four abstentions. The USA, which does not recognize the ICC, also abstained. They had previously received a concession that US citizens working for the UN in Sudan would be excluded from the resolution. Sudan, however, rejects a trial against alleged Sudanese war criminals abroad.

In 2007, after a long diplomatic struggle, the Sudanese government declared its consent to a mixed peacekeeping force from the United Nations and the African Union. The Hybrid Deployment Mission of the African Union and the United Nations in Darfur (UNAMID) was unanimously authorized on July 31, 2007 by UN Security Council Resolution 1769 .

In January 2008, UNAMID was represented in the crisis area with 7,156 soldiers, 220 military observers and 1,704 police officers. The scope of the mission covered by the resolution is approximately 26,000 people. With 9,080 men and women of the UNAMID mission, only a fraction (approx. 35%) of the authorized forces are currently on site. They are supported by another 66 voluntary UN employees.

European Union

At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in April 2004, the delegates spoke only outside the agenda about the political situation in Western Sudan.

The situation was assessed on Monday (August 9, 2004) by Pieter Feith , Deputy Director for Foreign and Security Affairs of the European Union in Brussels, after his trip to Sudan: "We do not have a genocide situation there".

German federal government

Sudanese authorities have banned representatives of the German Bundestag's Human Rights Committee from entering the crisis region of Darfur. In 2004 the authorities also confiscated footage from an ARD camera team . The German federal government has called on the Sudanese government several times to adhere to the agreed ceasefire and to grant aid organizations access to the refugees.

International organizations

The international human rights organization Amnesty International has started the project www.eyesondarfur.org . With the help of images from satellite cameras, citizens around the world should be able to get a better picture of the extent of the crisis. The goal is not only reporting, but should also serve to monitor the hostile groups and thus contribute to the end of the conflict. In collaboration with numerous prominent musicians, AI also launched the Make Some Noise - the Global Campaign to Save Darfur project .

A broad Save Darfur movement exists in the USA .


  • Hatem Elliesie: Sudan under the Constraints of (International) Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Law: The Case of Darfur . In: Hatem Elliesie (Ed.): Contributions to Islamic Law VII: Islam und Menschenrechte / Islam and Human Rights / al-islam wa-huquq al-insan. Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Vienna 2010, pp. 193 ff. ISBN 978-3-631-57848-3 .
  • Hatem Elliesie (with Urs Behrendt, Niway Zergie Aynalem): Different Approaches to Genocide Trials under National Jurisdiction on the African Continent: The Rwandan, Ethiopian and Sudanese Cases . In: Recht in Afrika, Cologne 2009, 12/1, pp. 21–67. ISBN 978-3-89645-804-9 .
  • Mohamed Hassan Fadlalla: UN intervention in Dar Fur . iUniverse Inc 2007, ISBN 0-595-42979-3 .
  • Hatem Elliesie: The Darfur Crisis in Sudan and International Law: A Challenge for the United Nations (UN) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) . In: Constitution and Law in Übersee (Law and Politics in Africa, Asia and Latin America), Baden-Baden 2007, 40/2, pp. 199–229. ISSN  0506-7286 .
  • Gérard Prunier : Darfur. The “ambiguous” genocide . Hamburger Edition , Hamburg 2006, ISBN 978-3-936096-66-8 . (Review by K. Platt, Review by I. Küpeli)
  • Mohamed Hassan Fadlalla: The Problem of Dar Fur . iUniverse Inc 2005, ISBN 978-0-595-36502-9 .

Literature: history

  • AJ Arkell: A History of Darfur. Part II: The Tunjur etc. In: Sudan Notes and Records , 32, 2 (1951), pp. 207-238.
  • MW Daly: Darfur's Sorrow: A History of Destruction and Genocide , Cambridge 2010.
  • Dierk Lange: Migration of the Assyrian tamkāru to Nubia, Darfur and the Lake Chad area (PDF; 207 kB). In: Bronislaw Nowak et al. (Ed.), Europejczycy Afrykanie Inni: Studia ofiarowane Profesorowi Michalowi Tymowskiemu , Warszawa 2011, pp. 199–226.
  • Nehemia Levtzion, John Hopkins: Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West African History , Cambridge 1981.
  • Gustav Nachtigal : Sahara and Sudan. Vol. III: Wadai and Darfor , Leipzig 1889, pp. 355-385.
  • RS O'Fahey: The Darfur Sultanate: A History . London 2008.

Web links

Commons : Darfur  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. UN: 100,000 more dead in Darfur than reported. ( Memento of the original from October 10, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. CNN World, April 22, 2008  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / articles.cnn.com
  2. ^ "In 1950 there were one million inhabitants in Darfur, now there are eight million" ; Stefan Kröpelin, scientist at the Africa Research Unit of the Institute for Prehistory and Protohistory at the University of Cologne, in an article for the n-tv web portal, April 29, 2014
  3. ^ Levtzion / Hopkins, Corpus , 114.
  4. Nachtigal, Sahara , II, 256; III, 358.
  5. Lange, " Abwanderung " (PDF; 207 kB), 211-8.
  6. O'Fahey, Darfur , 33-40.
  7. ^ Sudan - Darfur. Federal Agency for Civic Education, 2016, accessed in 2017 .
  8. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir. Trial International, 2015, accessed in 2017 .
  9. Bloxham, D., & Moses, D. (Eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2010.
  10. a b UN: 40,000 people displaced in new fighting in Darfur. Der Standard, October 19, 2008
  11. The human rights situation in Darfur. Amnesty International, accessed 2017 .
  12. un.org: Darfur - UNAMID - Facts and Figures
  13. Darfur is monitored from space. Spiegel.de, June 6, 2007
  14. Eyes on Darfur ( Memento of the original from June 10, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.eyesondarfur.org
  15. amnesty International - Make Some Noise ( Memento of the original dated August 28, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.instantkarma.org